picture W Jefferson Hills students studying frogs
Students monitor frogs, providing data to Pitt researchers

Jennifer Kassimer’s seventh-grade life science class at Pleasant Hills Middle School participated in a unique University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) research project involving frogs and climate change.

As part of the project conceived by Pitt biology professor Corinne Richards-Zawacki, the middle school students molded agar, a gelatinous material, into small frog figures. Sensors placed within the frog figures monitored temperatures. The students recorded the weight and length of their frogs and then placed them around the middle school’s campus. They retrieved their frogs the next day so that Pitt researchers could gather data from the sensors. Moisture levels of the areas where the frogs were placed was measured by the frogs’ weight.

Funded through a National Science Foundation grant, the study is working to determine the impact of climate change on a fungal infection called chytridiomycosis, which can be fatal to cold-blooded amphibians, including leopard frogs.

As project partners, Pleasant Hills students are learning about the real-life effect of climate change and the process of conducting scientific research.