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A Glue from Slug Slime?
This article describes a classroom activity from the University of Washington—successfully used with middle and high school students in life science and biology classes—in which students design a research investigation to answer the question: “Is slug slime stickier than glue stick?” The author contends that slugs—mollusks that produce slime which acts as both a glue and a lubricant—are perfect for stimulating students’ curiosity and are an ideal subject to introduce investigative science. The article contains classroom guidelines and explains the eight-step inquiry method involved. During their investigation, students work in small groups to decide how to measure the success of an adhesive; each team invents a “Sticky-O-Meter” to quantify glue stickiness; and students compare results from slug slime with those from a commercial adhesive. The article provides teacher background information on the fascinating biology of slugs and a discussion of slime and bioadhesives. It also explains how to collect and care for slugs in the classroom. In addition, it contains guidelines for the research project, the lab report, and a five-minute research talk using a whiteboard. This article also offers two examples of student-designed “Sticky-O-Meters,” constructed to test how well an adhesive (slug slime or glue stick) holds up when used to glue together different types of materials. A description of this activity first appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of The Science Teacher.
Program Director: Barbara T. Wakimoto, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1989, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- The UW-HHMI Integrative Research Internship Program, which enables students to participate in faculty-mentored research to gain appreciation for the breadth of research approaches in biology;
- The Biology Fellows Program, which provides selected freshmen with a supportive academic and social environment to help them succeed with a demanding science curriculum;
- The UW-HHMI Future Faculty Fellows Program, which includes an annual teaching and career workshop and a teaching apprenticeship program for postdoctoral researchers; and
- The UW-HHMI Summer Institute in Life Sciences, which provides elementary and middle school teachers with training in inquiry-based science teaching, by developing and testing new evolutionary biology and human biology modules.