Engage middle school students (grades 6-8) in science through interactive, plant biology-themed activities as part of an after-school enrichment program at Urbana Middle School.
Our first and foremost goal is to increase public awareness of the important roles plants play in our everyday lives. We have chosen middle school students in order to focus on students at an age critical to whether their interest in science will continue through the university level (Jensen and McMullen 1995). The educational benefits to both middle school and graduate students are evaluated by an educational research team led by Dr Barbara Hug, UIUC.
Nationally disseminate materials developed through work with participating middle school students, including lesson plans and web-based media that meet national science education standards.
A group of graduate students at the UIUC has developed twelve (12) lesson plans available for download. Each of these lessons meets national science education standards and provides students with an opportunity to explore plant biology using a variety of differeny technologies. Additionally, we have provided a forum for teachers to interact and share ideas and techniques for teaching plant related topics to students of all age groups.
Provide a long-term platform for graduate students and faculty in the UIUC Department of Plant Biology to interact with and mentor middle school students to build science self-efficacy.
By bringing researchers face to face with the youth of today, we are both providing a means to interact with the general public and to give young students a glimpse into what really goes own behind the lab goggles. The lessons are designed so that each student works one on one with a graduate volunteer to cater to the student's specific interests and questions.