The Botanical Society of America, the international non-profit organization promoting botany and plant science through education, grants, conferences and scientific publications leads PlantingScience, the hands on education program comprised of 14 partnered scientific societies. Since its launch in 2005, PlantingScience has reached over 11,000 middle and high school students nationwide, and is gaining significant traction among educators. The Fall session for this school year has over 2000 students working directly with field and lab scientists from across the United States on scientific research projects that are student designed and led. 225 online scientists are guiding small, 3-5-student teams of middle and high school students through research projects that promote hands-on plant science investigations, and teach the process of science through research investigations.
Long-time scientist and volunteer mentor Melanie Devore, Georgia College Biology and Environmental Sciences, PhD, sees the impact of the program extending beyond classroom education.
“Students bring the process of science, along with a plant scientist, into their classrooms and homes via the PlantingScience website,” Dr. Devore says. “As a scientist, it can be a hard sell sometimes to convince some members of the general public that science is an important endeavor that should be supported. I am willing to bet that some of the student members of PlantingScience teams have shown the importance of plant biology by sitting down at the family computer and showing their parents what transpired in the classroom.”
Teachers enroll their classes in PlantingScience and select a topic appropriate for their curriculum. Scientists from one of the 14 Scientific Society Partners are matched to the selected topic and mentor the students through a 3-10-week research project the students develop and carry out on their own. The project with all of the students’ questions, discussions and commentary, and the scientist’s suggestions, are posted on their team pages on the PlantingScience website, plantingscience.org, where other teams working on different research projects may follow all research investigations. The program brings together students, teachers and scientists to encourage and nurture interest in scientific inquiry and to enhance middle and high school science literacy.
Science teachers from schools across the United States including Missouri, New York, Illinois, Kentucky, California, Colorado, Montana, Alaska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington, among others, are incorporating PlantingScience into their curricula this Fall.
“I have used PlantingScience for several years now,” says Dick Willis, Northwest R1 High School, Jefferson County, Missouri. “I typically use it in all of my Biology classes, which now means that during this session I will have about 30 projects going at one time. The connection with real biologists helps the students understand the relationships that are so important among scientists, and the use of technology is always a big plus for my students as well.”
As a learning and research resource, PlantingScience creates a community for students, plant scientists, and teachers from across the nation. Students take on roles as actual research scientists by working with other students in the same collaborative manner as professional scientists. The program was developed and implemented by the Botanical Society of America as a response to a call for action from the National Academies to become leaders in supporting inquiry-based Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (STEM) education. The National Academies is the collective organization of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. The organization provides expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world.
About the Botanical Society of America (BSA
Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, the Botanical Society of America (botany.org) is the 501©(3) non-profit organization that publishes the renowned American Journal of Botany, named one of the Top 10 most influential journals over the last 100 years in the field of biology & medicine. The BSA is one of the world's largest scientific societies with over 3200 members from 80 countries devoted to the study of plants and allied organisms, and functions as the umbrella organization covering all specialties; plant biology, including development, physiology, reproductive biology, evolution, phycology, genetics, mycology, ecology, systematics, molecular biology, and paleobotany.
PlantingScience (plantingscience.org) is a partnership of 14 Scientific Societies and led by the Botanical Society of America. The Science magazine award-winning program was developed to help improve science literacy by supporting inquiry-based Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (STEM) education. PlantingScience actively supports teachers to engage their students in the scientific process by connecting practicing scientist mentors with small teams of students for student-led and student-developed research projects spanning a 3-10+ week period. The program is run at no cost for teachers/schools. PlantingScience has served thousands students and their teachers, and has over 400 scientist volunteer mentors participating in the program.