Modeling the Models: What are C. elegans and Why Should You Care

Modeling the Models: C. Elegans is an educational subset of a Saturday workshop sponsored by the Latham Science Engagement Initiative in cooperation with Upward Bound. As a goal, the project is meant to show future students what undergraduate research is like- in the most flattering light possible. The overarching workshop will be composed of various elements of science and fun, including an epidemic readiness activity, lab tours of real undergraduate researchers, Q and A with current researchers, a brief college campus tour, and an expo where individual people can present their current work via posters.

My subset of the workshop will focus entirely on C. Elegans. Using the microscopic nematode as an example, I’ll first explain the use of model organisms tailor made to my audience. This will touch on why such small organisms are used to model large ones, and why creatures such as rats are so useful for modeling ourselves. This will include a brief synopsis of DNA and evolution- but simplified to my early high school and late middle school audience. Then I will demonstrate how the worms are moved and used while explaining the various experiments that can be achieved with them. Then I will open the room up and give interested students their own microscope and plate of worms. To give them a firsthand taste of undergraduate research, they’ll then be challenged to move 5-10 worms themselves. Even the basics of C. Elegans research, moving the worms, is difficult and the successful students will be rewarded (as well as the unsuccessful students). Friendly competition will be rewarded by prizes and the concluding remarks will touch on fun facts about our model of choice, C. Elegans.

Project Author(s): 
Author Bio(s): 
Christian is a third year Neurobiology major and Philosophy minor on the premed track currently on par for a 2019 graduation. After graduating, he plans to attend either medical school or law school.