Scientific experiment begins

February 20, 2019

LAUGHLIN — Two Laughlin members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River started magnifying their research recently.

Terri Miller, a retired middle school teacher from the Los Angeles area, is guiding young scientists Marcello and Alec Faccioli at the Laughlin club on how to conduct an experiment with collembolans. They’re a tiny insect-like arthropods.

Their research findings have a chance to get published in “The New Journal of Student Research Abstracts.”

Miller has helped students with this program since 2000. Most recently, she volunteered at St. Catherine of Siena School in Los Angeles, where she helped multiple students get published. She now is a full-time Laughlin resident and was looking to bring her expertise here.

“I got in contact with Renata Faccioli (Laughlin Boys and Girls Club unit director) and she said ‘Yes; we want to do this,’ ” Miller said.

At the second meeting, the students learned how to use microscopes. They looked at various things like flowers, string and the collembolans they will be using for the experiment.

The experiment will take six weeks to complete.

Students 13 and up can join before the end of February. However, once a member joins, they need to attend each Monday at the Laughlin club from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. until the experiment is over.

The students will be researching whether peppermint scented essential oil bothers the collembolans. Miller read that essential oil could act as an insecticide.

The plan is to have one petri dish of collembolans as the control group, and then to have another that has a drop of the scented oil in it.

“Who knows, they might like the taste they might reproduce faster,” Miller said.

They then will monitor what happens during the following weeks and then write the abstract of their experiment for the academic journal. The journal has a Library of Congress number and is an official book.

This is a good opportunity for students to place this on their future college applications, Miller said.

She had one student previously who ended up getting a full ride because of work with the journal.

There are more than 7,000 collembolan variants. They can be seen with the naked eye but don’t look like much unless under a microscope.

In the wild, they are found in leaf litter and are a sign of healthy soil.

Miller’s collembolans actually came from previous generations that she once got from the California State University, Northridge garden years earlier.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.