Genetically modified mosquitoes have been used to reduce mosquito populations and the diseases they spread. But how can we tell if the method works? In this activity, students analyze data from a field experiment.
This activity accompanies the Scientists at Work video Genetically Modified Mosquitoes. The video describes how scientists at the company Oxitec produced a line of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes that, when released into the wild, would reduce local mosquito populations.
In this activity, students are challenged to provide their own questions and ideas for experiments they could conduct to investigate the impact of releasing GM mosquitoes into the wild. The students then learn the approaches that scientists at Oxitec have used to conduct such experiments, and use math, descriptive statistics, and line and bar graphs to analyze their data from treatment and control areas. As an option, students may also use spreadsheets to analyze and graph the data.
This activity was designed to be completed within two 50-minute class periods, including viewing the video, although the time requirements depend on how comfortable your students are analyzing data and creating graphs. It could be completed in one class period if students watch the video at home and complete their graphs for homework.
The activity was adapted from an activity developed by scientists and educators at Oxitec.