Bringing our research to the public and K-12 students is an important part of the Roberts lab culture, and we are engaged in a variety of outreach projects, ranging from relatively large-scale, to fun and local. If you have any interest in working together to engage the public, please contact us!
Kenan Fellows Program
We are a host lab for the Kenan Fellows Program at NC State, a teacher professional advancement program that provides K-12 teachers with mentored research experiences with scientists during the summer. Our hope is to directly impact STEM education in the Fellow’s classroom, while working with the Fellow to develop educational modules that can be distributed more widely to other schools and via the web.
Fish Filet Forensics
We also developed this full day genetics workshop for high school students with fish fraud and forensics as the theme, Students used PCR and gel electrophoresis to make species identifications from small pieces of fish from a grocery store. During experimental downtime we discussed fish fraud, human and wildlife forensics, DNA technology, food safety and human health, and geography and socioeconomics in relation to food labeling. Students have been technically successful and highly engaged in the workshop, and we are happy to share our educational materials and protocols with anyone interested.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The lab loves our proximity to this fantastic museum, the largest regional draw for public science education. We participate in Darwin Day and Brain Awareness Night activities, including presenting lay talks and interactive exhibits.
Fish Face Frenzy!
Our traveling interactive exhibit aims to introduce the concept of dietary adaptation primarily to an elementary school aged audience and their parents. Kids pick a fish to color, in part based on their jaw morphology and how it relates to what the fish eat, and thus where they live. We also introduce other concepts based on how they color their fish, including camouflage and attracting mates. Once the fish are colored in, they are imaged and displayed "swimming" on a large monitor, so that each participant adds to the diversity in our "lake" - while the kids get to take home their creation.
Dances with Fishes
For all ages, this interactive exhibit uses dance moves to get the public thinking about animal behavior as communication, and about the links between human and non-human behavior. Click on the instruction sheets below if you'd like to learn some new fish-inspired moves yourself!
Our lab members regular give informal lay talks to expose the public to our research, and to the fields of genetics and evolutionary biology. Our favorite venues include Pints of Science, The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology social evening discussions.