Have you ever heard of a plant that thrives in total darkness? The Monotropa uniflora, or ghost plant, is a parasitic plant which receives energy in partnership with fungi, rather than through the usual system of photosynthesizing with sunlight. This white plant can live in total darkness, as long as it is in touch with the proper mycelia (the “root system” of mushrooms) to provide the nutrients it requires to survive. Communications Coordinator, Nica Rabinowitz, reports that a parasitic bug was uncovered living on this parasitic plant, and notes how “it epitomizes the symbiotic relationship of all living things.” This is one example of something you’ll learn once you follow RockEDU on instagram. They use the LabCam to zoom in on plants and wildlife for their Parts Per Millions series.
RockEDU Science Outreach offers free programs to New York City students that increase awareness and appreciation of science through hands-on lab experience and engaging content. During full-day LAB Experiences at the RockEDU Science Outreach Laboratory at The Rockefeller University, middle and high school students have the opportunity to engage with scientists and authentic research. For example, their inquiry-based algae curriculum involves collecting samples from outdoor fountains (in the warmer months!) and looking at microbes under the microscope. Here at LabCam, we believe that our microscope adapters make it easy to share scientific images and inspire future generations of scientists. We sat down with our friends at RockEDU to learn how they use the LabCam to engage with their community.
Nica Rabinowitz says that RockEDU Science Outreach aims to celebrate the little things that are important to life’s complex relationships, but sometimes go unnoticed. In their new social media campaign, Parts Per Millions, RockEDU takes a closer look at what is growing in the world by photographing unique parts of nature using the LabCam and sharing on social media. As Rabinowitz says, “on any given walk through the woods, there are so many scenes playing out at a scale too small to capture through the traditional camera lens. As new technologies emerge and perspectives widen, we are able to take a more holistic viewpoint in our quest to understand the underlying complexities of life.” Followers of the series will catch close-up glimpses of edible mollusks, beautiful pests, and ferns that can only be found in high-altitudes. RockEDU knows that seeing is believing, and hopes that their micro-photo series encourages a vast audience, regardless of scientific background, to explore nature and to be inquisitive about our natural habitats. Rabinowitz hopes that posts, “inspire others to pick up their phone and document what is growing amongst us all – one part at a time.”
What’s next for the Parts Per Million series? RockEDU is excited to explore what’s living in their own backyard, the Rockefeller University campus. Rockefeller University’s landscaping team has developed a detailed tree map of the entire campus and RockEDU wants to take a closer look to see what plant and wildlife are living on the trees and possibly create their own map that illustrates other organisms living in symbiosis on one of the trees.