Chicago River Student Congress

On Saturday, February 20th members of the Orlofske-Jadin Lab participated in the 19th Annual Chicago Student River Congress at Taft High school. The classroom was filled with curious students ranging in ages from 6-18 eager to learn about what parasites invasive aquatic invertebrates bring with them. Following a presentation introducing students to both macroinvertebrates and parasites a workshop allowed students to get hands on experience looking through both dissecting scopes and compound microscopes to see preserved and live specimens. Some students even took time to identify the aquatic invertebrates in their petri dish. Students were excited to learn about what parasites lurk inside humans and their pets. The event was an overall success and we already had students and teachers ready for next year! (by Alma Mendoza)

“The Good, the Bad, and the Invasive” was the theme of the 2016 Chicago River Student Congress, an annual Friends of the Chicago River event, hosted at Taft High School in Chicago. The Orlofske Lab (OL) had the privilege to present at this year’s conference to packed rooms of middle and high school students. A goal of the conference was to highlight the importance of biodiversity to the Chicago River. OL contributed parasites to the discussion through a presentation of macro invertebrates and the parasites they may serve as intermediate hosts to. Students who attended the OL presentation were introduced to three ways indigenous (native) and non-indigenous (invasive) aquatic species are connected via the parasites they carry: Enemy release, spillover, and spillback. These were not presented as good or bad interactions, but the point was made about how population growth can be affected by the parasites living in both non-indigenous and indigenous species. Students were then able to get a lot of hands on experience identifying preserved macro invertebrates, playing with ‘stuffed animal’ parasites, viewing slides of parasites, and observing live parasite cercariae through compound microscopes. (by Chuck Stark)