An Inspirational Tale About Transpiration

A lot of things have changed, but labs go on in Mary Lee Wesberry’s AP Biology class! With Google Meet, a cell phone, nail polish, a potted plant, and a portable microscope she received at the St. Jude Science Scholars of Tomorrow, Wesberry quickly switched gears to begin the fourth quarter as planned, with the Transpiration Lab.
“I just adjusted to doing labs online. The students watched me demo the lab. Not ideal but better than just reading the lab!” says Wesberry.

Mary Lee Wesberry had always planned to begin the fourth quarter with the study of transpiration, the process by which plants absorb water and then transmit it through their leaves via pores, or stomata. When the COVID-19 distance-learning mandate created a wrinkle in her plans, she needed a Plan B. The students already had the procedure in writing, so Wesberry decided to demonstrate the lab through Google Meet.
First, she did a stomata imprint using clear nail polish and put it under a portable microscope that she had received at the St. Jude Science Scholars of Tomorrow Day. She took a picture with her cellphone and shared it with her students. The next step was to calculate water loss.

“I used a plant to demonstrate how to calculate water loss via transpiration. The plant was watered and a plastic bag tied around soil. I weighed it, then showed how the lab was set up and talked about possible data collection,” says Wesberry.
While the learning continues, Wesberry also takes time to make connections with students. “We meet face to face via Google Meet every class. We have a ‘wellness’ check-in and then cover AP Bio topics. Most classes usually end with a chat on how things are going and student ideas on best use of our face to face time,” she says.

During one of those chats, she asked if anyone needed masks. Wesberry had been making masks for her husband’s Ophthalmology clinic at UTHSC, so taking a few orders from the girls was not a problem. She delivered the bee-autiful masks herself. “Our new normal truly must address the ‘whole’ student - both academically and emotionally,” says Wesberry.

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Hutchison is the leading private girls school in Memphis for ages 2 years old through twelfth grade.