Sea urchin experimentLocal 3rd graders will get a chance to witness cell biology up close March 28 on the SMU campus, when Provost Paul Ludden offers a session on sea urchin egg fertilization for elementary school students and grandchildren of University faculty.

The students will observe live sea urchins in a salt water tank, which will be treated with potassium chloride to induce production of eggs and sperm. The 3rd graders will then be able to observe the fertilization and cell-division process over the course of the day. At the end of the experiment, all sea urchins will be given to a local pet store.

Ludden has demonstrated this experiment to children across the country for 20 years, since his own daughter was their age, he says. “I have learned that this experiment is usually appreciated best by 3rd graders,” he adds. “It is always fun to see children observe the phenomenon of cell division.”

Assisting Ludden will be Sara Gingrich and Natalie Kashefi, biological science majors in SMU’s Dedman College. The two undergraduates have given the presentation in area schools, including Dallas’ Lipscomb Elementary School.

The experiment begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues until about 3 p.m. For more information, contact Linda May in the Provost’s office. (Above, Kashefi and Gingrich demonstrate the sea-urchin experiment to Lipscomb Elementary students in 2008.)

Read about a previous experiment and see a slide show from SMU News slide show