Friday, July 25, 2014

Zoey the Zooxanthellae

In my previous grad student life, I studied the photobiology of Symbiodinium, aka zooxanthellae, the symbiotic algae inside corals. Every year the university held a public outreach day and each lab would have a table to show their work. It was one of my favorite days of the year (I was the weirdo, most grad students dreaded it). I went all out one year and designed an activity booklet for the kids who came that included coloring pages, word search and crossword puzzle, in addition to educational information. The booklet's front section was written for younger kids and the back section for older kids/adults.

For the younger kids section, I created a mascot, Zoey the Zooxanthellae. I am not an artist but how hard can it be to draw a dinoflagellate? And this was who appeared

Hi! I’m Zoey the zooxanthellae.. 
that’s pronounced zo-zan-THEL-ee.
You know she's a girl cause she has bows ;) Of course, I could not stop there..
I had to have sad Zoey that her home is being threatened by coral bleaching:

Then came educational Zoey: 

And photosynthesizing Zoey:

I must admit, photosynthesizing Zoey is my favorite. I took the booklet with me to my job interview at the for profit college and, honestly, think it's how I got the job. I had no formal teaching experience but I clearly demonstrated I could explain complicated information at various levels.

Maybe someday I will update the write up for the 6+ years of research that has occurred since I made the booklet and make it a free resource here on the blog. Would anyone be interested in an updated Zoey book?  What idea age range do you think I should make it? Any feedback would be appreciated!

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