Activity help

Mark D. Spiro spiro at BUCKNELL.EDU
Tue Aug 31 13:31:01 EST 1999

I would recommend trying c-fern for a quick demonstration.  This is the
fern Ceratopteris, a model system that was developed at the University of
Tennessee and is being marketed by Carolina for teaching grade 7 through
college.  Only very simple equipment and inexpensive supplies are needed to
culture the spores of c-fern which develop into fertile  gametophytes
within 14 days.  In fifty minutes the students could learn about alteration
of generations in plants, study the simple structure of these fern
gametophytes which develop into either male or hermaphrodite gametophytes,
and observe fertilization taking place.  Fertilization is triggered by
adding a drop of water to the ~14 day old cultures, which stimulates the
release of swarms of motile swimming sperm that are chemotactic towards the
archegonia (which contains the egg) of the hermaphrodite gametophyte.   The
swimming sperm can be observed directly in the culture dish with a
disecting microscope. Our intro Bio students found the fertilization
demonstration to be really fascinating ( you have to be pleased when you
can get students interested in fern biology).  There is a ton of additional
info including culture conditions, available mutants, and descriptions of
other demonstrations at the following web site

>Well, I'm one of those people that cannot say "no" and figure I need to be
>involved in high school linkages, so I have agreed to do two 50-55 minute
>sessions of "non-trivial" hands on botany. The students are talented,
>taking  "Bio. 2", and are mostly seniors. They can take the AP exam after
>completing the high school course. They probably will have had no botany at
>the time the activity takes place (early November). They are using  a
>college text -- Starr and Taggart.
>Any suggestions for a "hands-on, non-trivial" experience that we might be
>able to do in 50 minutes?
>James W. Perry
>CEO/Campus Dean
>Professor - Biological Sciences
>University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley
>1478 Midway Road
>Menasha, Wisconsin  54952-8002
>FAX 920.832-2674
>jperry at

Mark D. Spiro
Department of Biology
Bucknell University
Lewisburg, PA 17837
spiro at
phone:  (570) 577-3486
fax: (570) 577-3537

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