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Teaching Section

Brown, Beverly J. [1], Dahl, William [2], Hemingway, Claire [2].

BSA Sci-π: Creating a research community using the Internet and inquiry-based learning.

Understanding the process of scientific inquiry is a common goal in classrooms across the country. While plants are excellent organisms for these experiments, many teachers overlook this possibility. In April 2005, we tested an approach that links middle school, high school, college students, and experts, through exploration of a common theme. The focus of the investigations was seed germination and seedling growth. Students can start the project using a guided inquiry approach where each student learns to grow sprouts and completes a set of thought-provoking observations. This exercise leads to a second tier of investigations where students generate their own experiments based on their sprout farming experience. When teachers are comfortable with inquiry-based learning, they can proceed immediately to student-initiated experiments. Students work in teams within their classes and post their progress on the web. College students act as mentors for high school students and all students can have access to expert advice for advanced questions. These investigations provide many opportunities to incorporate chemistry and mathematics topics. This interdisciplinary, "minds-on" approach links recent advances in learning theory with the study of plants. Thus, this project can improve students' and teachers' attitudes toward plants, facilitate teaching using current learning theory, and help students understand science by being scientists. This fall we will be expanding the number of classes participating in the project and eventually hope to have the project on-going year round. Given the low cost and high level of support provided by the web site for both students and teachers, this project can bring scientific investigation to populations of students that might not otherwise conduct hands-on investigations. In the future, we hope to add additional projects highlighting other aspect of plant studies to the web site.

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1 - Nazareth College of Rochester, Biology Department, 4245 east Avenue, Rochester, New York, 14618, USA
2 - Botanical Society of America, 4475 Castleman Ave., P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, Missouri, 63166-0299, USA

inquiry-based learning
seed germination
seedling development
technology in the classroom.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 6-4
Location: 400/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 10:15 AM
Abstract ID:399

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