Local middle school students took their learning beyond the bounds of their classroom on a visit to NIMBioS last week. Fifty students from Gresham Middle School‘s Beta Club, along with teachers and parent chaperones, visited the institute and participated in hands-on activities exploring the connections between math and biology.
In one activity, designed and presented by NIMBioS High Performance Computing Specialist Eric Carr, students learned how computer code can help analyze images for biological applications. For the image lab, students explored how one could use the software to figure out the basal area of leaves. The students changed parameters for the program in Matlab to improve detection and imported images of leaves taken with webcams.
In a second activity, NIMBioS Associate Director for Education & Outreach Suzanne Lenhart explored with students the properties of platonic solids and how they relate to the structure of viruses. Students built solids from plastic triangles and made their own origami solids to take home.
Students finished out their visit to the University of Tennessee with a trip to CURENT, an engineering research center on campus, where they toured engineering labs. TNSCORE, another engineering research center on campus, was also involved in the visit and helped the students build small solar-powered cars.