Lovinggood Middle School Students Take Learning to the Microscopic Level

Lovinggood Middle School student Luke watched as a planarian worm wriggled around inside a petri dish. Luke and his partner practiced cutting the planarian so they could observe how the worm regenerates over a few weeks into separate worms.

Lovinggood parent Lesley Litt guided the seventh grade students through the hands-on experiment with the flatworms known for their regenerative properties. 

“Mr. Litt explained how planarians work under the microscope by giving us a close, in-depth visual of the actual planarian worm,” Luke explained. “You could see that no matter how many times you cut them apart, they can always regenerate.”

Litt donated the funds that the school used to purchase the high-powered microscope for the science department. His goal is to provide funds for new science equipment over the next four years. He wants to inspire the Lovinggood students and give them a bit of an advantage in the classroom and at area science fairs, like the ones his son Stephen has competed in.

“The reason I got involved is because my son, Stephen, has had some wonderful teachers [at Lovinggood],” Litt added.

Litt, who volunteered to work with the seventh grade Lovinggood students, understands the importance of making lessons in a textbook come to life.

“We have a lot of parents who have an expertise that they like to share with our classes, and Mr. Litt has a particular expertise with planarian worms. It fits our curriculum because we learn about asexual reproduction and how stem cells reproduce,” said Janice Scoville, a Lovinggood seventh grade science teacher. “Mr. Litt volunteered to come in and work with the students to help them study the planarians and how they regenerate using stem cells.”

Listening to the guest teacher made seventh grader Brenna interested in learning how the planarians may help cure certain types of cancers using stem cells. Luke, who is fascinated by the way planarians are able to regenerate, now wants to learn more about genetics and how cells divide.

What students saw in the microscope captured the attention of Alex, one of Brenna and Luke’s accelerated content science classmates.

“When [Mr. Litt] was using the microscope to look at the planarian worms, we saw cancerous tumors on one of them. He told us that if they are cut and they have a tumor, that part would not regrow,” recounted Alex.

Litt enjoyed the opportunity to show the students something new, something they may have only seen on the pages of a textbook.

“Having a scientific background myself, it was very gratifying to see all the students be able to interact,” the Lovinggood parent beamed. “They had a high-powered microscope with them in the classroom so they were able to see the worm up close versus what was done in the past which was using their cell phone to see something that was 10 times what their eye could see. The microscope could go up to maybe 1,500 times. They could look at cells and parts of the worm.” 

Scoville thinks parental involvement is really important and said Litt’s parent-led lesson gave her students an opportunity to engage in a real-world experience that may boost the seventh graders’ excitement about school and what they can learn.

Litt plans to continue to volunteer and support his son’s teachers. He hopes other families at Lovinggood and around Cobb County follow his family’s example and donate their time, and more, to help increase student success.