Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below and to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


     Kansas NSF EPSCoR is seeking White Papers for impactful initiatives for REI Awards. REI Awards are for small projects that will either allow for networking and planning or for the immediate pursuit of larger projects for developing new transformational concepts. These are awarded for both research and education, given their close relationship. These awards are in the same spirit as and share goals with NSF EAGER (Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) awards, for high risk/high gain research ideas.  
     The current RII Track-1 award funding REI Awards is titled Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant and Soil Systems (MAPS) across Kansas. Broadly, MAPS’ mission is to elucidate how microbiomes interact within native and agriculturally dominated aquatic, plant, and soil habitats, leveraging the steep precipitation gradient across Kansas as a means of projecting system response to environmental change. The MAPS project provides a vehicle for education, training, and outreach that includes informing policymakers and managers. 

Only projects with research in areas that are related to the current Kansas NSF EPSCoR focus of microbiomes as broadly construed to be in aquatic, plant and/or soil systems are eligible for REI Awards.

Eligible to apply:  Any individual with PI status at Kansas State University, University of Kansas, Wichita State University, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University or Washburn University.

An individual Principal Investigator may submit a total project budget of up to $50,000 in direct costs for up to 12 months. 

Please note new proposal submission details included in the RFP

White papers are due by 5:00 pm  
Thursday, January 31st, 2019

for additional information go to Kansas NSF EPSCoR Funding Opportunities

It is expected that Kansas NSF EPSCoR will fund as many as four REI Awards depending upon the size of the requests

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the Research and Education Innovation (REI) Awards is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: "Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas."  The grant's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lessons from the MAPS 2018 Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute for high school biology teachers are making positive impacts in the classroom

Ms. Amy Hammett
Honors Biology and
Earth-Space Science Teacher
Maize High School
Maize, KS
     Last summer, eleven high school Biology and Environmental Science teachers from across Kansas attended the MAPS 2018 Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute held at the University of Kansas Field Station. The summer institute is one of the educational outreach initiatives supported by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) and is under the direction of  Dr. Peggy Schultz, Associate Specialist, Environmental Studies Program at the Kansas Biological Survey (KBS). The institute's objectives were to provide opportunities for teachers to create models and conduct research during the morning sessions and to work with other teachers in smaller focus groups to develop lessons and classroom activities during the afternoon sessions. Prior to attending the institute, teachers selected to participate in one of the three focus groups offered, Aquatics, Terrestrial or GIS. The focus groups provided the teachers with the opportunity to: 1) work with University of Kansas (KU) scientists in a small group setting, 2) develop lesson plans that connected their curriculum to the current MAPS research, and 3) create student activities reflecting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs).
     Ms. Amy Hammett, who teaches Honors Biology and Earth-Space Science at Maize High School in Maize, KS, attended last summer's institute and chose to participate in the Aquatics focus group led by Dr. Jerry DeNoyelles, Deputy Director and Senior Scientist at KBS and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at KU and Dr. Ted Harris , Assistant Research Professor at KBS. Using what she learned from her focus group experience, Ms. Hammett created two Problem Based Learning (PBL) lessons related to current water issues facing the state of Kansas. One lesson was titled Water Quality Monitoring of Kansas Surface Water and Computational Modeling of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). The objectives for this lesson involved students learning how to figure out “the human impacts of nutrient runoff, sedimentation, and global temperature changes on surface water supplies.” In order to meet these objectives, students participated in activities that included: "1) Algal Growth Experiments, 2) Water Quality Monitoring of Cheney Reservoir in collaboration with the University of Missouri's Reservoir Observer Student Scientists (ROSS) Project, and 3) R-Programming Analysis of Real-Time Limnology data using the EDDIE Modules. The second lesson was titled Water Quantity in the Ogallala Aquifer. The objectives for this lesson involved students learning how to figure out the long-term effects of water usage and conservation efforts, as well as design solutions and mitigate consequences of the over-usage of water. Activities for this lesson included: 1) Using math modeling to make a prediction on the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer and creating public education info-graphics, like this one, 2) attending the Governor's Water Conference in Manhattan in 2018, and 3) eight Maize High School students becoming Kansas Water Advocates.
Students learning more about becoming Kansas Water Advocates
     In addition, Ms Hammett arranged a class field trip to the Aquifer Storage Recovery facility in Burton, KS, where her students were shown how the city of Wichita "purifies and treats excess water from the Arkansas River for long-term storage in a man-made aquifer.” She also invited, Mr. Matt Unruh, the Director of the Equus Walnut Region of the Kansas Water Office and Dr. Harris to visit her classes. Mr. Unruh discussed the “Kansas water supply and all the technologies under development or being deployed to conserve water,” and Dr. Harris taught her students how to access the Carey Lab at Virginia Tech and use post doc Kait Farrell's "R code creations."
Left Matt Unruh, the Director of the Equus Walnut Region of the Kansas Water Office visits Amy's classes
Right, Dr. Ted Harris, Assistant Research Professor with KBS explains R code creations

     When asked how her classes responded to the lessons, Ms. Hammett said her students were "excited about doing work that is locally relevant and meaningful.” One student told her she felt, "for the first time, like a 'colleague' - doing science to 'figure out' rather than just 'learn about.'" Ms. Hammett also shared that her students performed at 100% mastery on assessments related to the lessons, which she attributes to "the increased motivation the lessons' relevance brought” to the classroom. In addition, she said the lessons have become “anchoring phenomenon in both Biology and Earth-Space Science classes, and students have connected and extended the NGSS Science & Engineering Practices (SEPs) adopted in these projects to all new learning.” Ms. Hammett has continued her collaboration with her summer institute Aquatics focus group leader, Dr. Harris, and together, they have been working on “an R-programming model of harmful algal blooms (HABs) using the EDDIE Project's modules. (We are also considering extending this work to a CS for All RFP, but that collaborative project is still in the works.)”
    As for the impact the summer institute has had on her instruction, Ms. Hammett said “The Ecosystems across Kansas Summer Institute shaped my teaching this year” and added, “I will be working as a fellow with Concord Consortium this upcoming summer to continue to develop lessons based on the topics discussed at the institute.” Ms. Hammett highly recommends that teachers apply to the 2019 Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute because “it is PD like no other; you do science alongside scientists and there is no substitute for this type of experience for teachers. It enables us to replicate it in the K12 environment, i.e. to get kids to do science in science class.”

The 2019 Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute is now accepting applications:  Apply here 

Ms. Amy Hammett has been teaching for 13 years, starting her career in Louisiana (2006-2010) before moving to Kansas. Prior to teaching at Maize High School, Ms. Hammett taught at Campus High School, Northeast Magnet, and online for the Insight School of Kansas (ISKS) / Kansas Virtual School. Approximately 150 high school students will participate in her MAPS related lessons during the 2018-2019 school year. For more information about Ms. Hammett's lessons and how to contact her, go to the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (KABT) Bio Blog Archives, PBL: Water Quantity and Water Quality

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: "Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas."  The grant's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Institute is now accepting applications for paid summer internships

       The HERS Institute is an 8-week paid summer internship program for undergraduate or recent graduate students held in June and July. The institute's underlying mission is to provide the opportunity for students to work with faculty from Native American colleges who are conducting long-term and short-term research relating to key hazardous substance problems on American Indian lands with the intent to disseminate the information through programs and various forms of media to American Indian peoples. The program is also dedicated to preparing tribal college students for science and technical careers and/or graduate school experiences. The program also provides various stages of support for continued research and participation in programs of interest to American Indian/Alaska native communities. The HERS interns' research topics primarily focus on the affects of climate change on indigenous communities.
     Interns spend the first six weeks of the program on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus in classrooms and laboratories learning about climate change and developing individual research projects. Then, the interns spend the following two weeks conducting independent research at Haskell Indian Nations University, The University of Kansas, and/or in the field. HERS interns will also have opportunities to present their work at professional meetings, workshops, and symposia around the country, such as the Society for Advancing Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) or American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).  Selected interns receive a stipend as well as room and board.

    To be considered for the HERS Internship Program, applicants must be undergraduate students or recent graduates in good standing, and eligible for enrollment in a tribal college or university.

Applicants will be expected to provide the following for consideration:

  • A 400 to 500 word Statement of Purpose including an explanation as to how a HERS internship benefits their professional goals. If relevant, also include a description of previous research experience.
  • A 400 to 500 word Essay describing an important environmental issue affecting Indigenous communities that is of interest to them. 
  • Two Letters of Recommendations: One from an academic reference and one from someone who can speak to the applicant's character.  There is a letters of recommendation request form at the online application site. 
  • A copy of the applicant's most recent college or university his or her transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested at a later time.

All application materials must be submitted by March 15, 2019

Check the HERS Institute website for updates or deadline extensions.

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the HERS program is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The award's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The MAPS KEES program teaches seed dispersal to third graders at Scott Dual Language Magnet School

    The Kansas Ecosystems for Elementary Students (KEES) program finished the Fall 2018 semester teaching an interactive seed dispersal lesson to Ms. Charlotte Muñoz’s third grade class at Scott Dual Language Magnet School in Topeka, KS. The KEES program is one of the education and workforce development initiatives funded by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) and is under the direction of Dr. Peggy Schultz, Associate Specialist for the Kansas Biological Survey Environmental Studies Program. As part of Scott's curricular focus, science is taught in Spanish, so Dr. Schultz hired Ms. Tita Hernandez-Soberon to write and teach the KEES curriculum in Spanish. Dr. Shultz also enlisted the help of University of Kansas (KU) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) PhD students, Laura Jimenez, Claudia Nunez-Penichet, Fernando Machado-Stredel, and Javier Torres-Lopez as well as program volunteer, Dr. Gaby Valverde-Muñoz to lead the small group activities within each KEES lesson.
Students discovering how seeds might disperse
    The seed dispersal lesson began with a brief discussion on how seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, explosions, and animals. Then, the third graders viewed a video showing how chipmunks store and transport acorns. Students were also shown a video, in slow motion, that explained how a "Jewelweed" or "Touch-Me-Not" seed capsule explodes in order to disperse its seeds. Following the introduction, students were split into small groups that rotated through activity stations led by the KEES instructors. At the first station, students were introduced to different types of seeds, and they conducted experiments to discover how each seed might be dispersed in an ecosystem. At the second station, students wore tape on their hands and crawled through oatmeal spread on the ground to simulate how seeds can be spread by sticking to animal fur. In the third activity, students pretended to be squirrels storing acorns for the winter. In this exercise, students wore socks on their hands and then crawled, hopped and ran from their trees, or home base to 1.) collect wooden acorns that were spread out on the ground; 2) dodge predators (KEES instructors); and 3.) bring the acorns back to their home tree. Through this activity, students learned how squirrels eat, gather, store, and drop acorns in order to help oak trees disperse their seeds. The final activity provided the students with the opportunity to create their own seed dispersal mechanisms and then test their mechanisms' effectiveness using water, wind, and gravity.
Students constructing their own seed transports and testing their efficiency
     When asked about the impact the MAPS KEES program has had on her students, so far, Ms. Muñoz said, the KEES program "has covered many of our Life Science standards. I love that the program is engaging for students. It brings in resources that we do not have access to as a public school and opens the eyes of our students to things they normally would not be able to experience.” Her students also echo her enthusiasm for the program as Ms. Muñoz describes, “My students LOVE when the 'science people' come visit us. They are always asking when they will come again.” Ms. Muñoz shared some of the comments her students have made about the KEES program below:
  • "It is really fun. We learned about plants and seeds." (Isaac)
  • "It's fun because they show us new things that we might not learn here." (Bryan)
  • "I think it's fun when they come because we do exciting experiments. I learn exciting things that I didn't know about before." (Zaylee)
In addition, Ms Muñoz said that although most of her students already love science, “the ones that do not change their perspective when the science teachers from KU are here. They become lovers of learning.” Furthermore, Ms. Muñoz has seen evidence that her students are retaining the information they are learning. She explained, “My students talk to each other about what they learn. When we talk about similar things in class, students are able to tell me and compare what they learned then to what they are learning now.” When Ms. Muñoz was asked what activity has been her students' favorite, so far, she said they really liked the squirrel game that taught them about seed dispersal (see video below). 

     Parents are also expressing their enthusiasm for the KEES program. Ms. Muñoz shared, “I post pictures of my students in their activities on Class Dojo for parents to see. Many of the parents have expressed excitement that their child is learning in a hands-on style. One parent in particular has a gifted student in my classroom and has had concerns that her child needs to be working in a challenging and engaging environment. She feels that this program fulfills those needs for him."
    The KEES program is also engaging third grade students at Jardine Elementary in Topeka, KS as well as Hillcrest Elementary and New York Elementary in Lawrence, KS. These additional classes are taught in English by undergraduate student instructors. In the Spring of 2019, three more MAPS related lessons will be taught, and the KEES program is expected to reach over 250 third grade students during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the KEES program is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The award's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

MAPS graduate student researcher receives a Self Graduating Seniors Fellowship at the University of Kansas

Paige Hansen
      Paige Hansen, a master’s student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at the University of Kansas (KU) and a graduate student researcher for the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS), has been selected to be a 2018-2019 Madison and Lila Self Graduating Senior Fellow. The Madison and Lila Self Graduating Senior Fellowship is a prestigious award that recognizes outstanding undergraduates who are entering a graduate degree program at KU immediately after completing their bachelor’s degree and who exhibit "the potential to make significant contributions to society that are beyond the bounds of normal expectations.” Selected Fellows also have demonstrated “individual achievement in leadership and scholarship” and possess “the ability to envision and attain goals that require exceptional energy and tenacity.” As part of the award, Paige will receive $10,000 of support for one academic year and will participate in monthly professional development programs covering topics such as “leadership, effective mentoring relationships, conducting and communicating research, grant preparation, public speaking, policy advocacy, networking, and preparation for today’s labor markets and evolving industries."
     Paige is from Brookings, SD and graduated from KU in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor's degree (BS) in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and a minor in English literature. Her research focus is soil microbial ecology. Paige was first introduced to this field of study in high school when she worked for a family friend who was a research scientist at the USDA North Central Agricultural Research Laboratories. She commented, “I didn’t like it at the time.” However, when she participated in a KU study abroad opportunity as an undergraduate researching “plant-fungal genetics in Bangkok…,” she said, “I ended up really loving the research, especially its potential to help the environment and people.” She added, “This experience also made me realize that there are fun, cool people who are excited about research, and that spending long days in the lab can be fun. I came back to KU wanting to continue to do research 1) that matters to people and the environment and 2) with people who are super excited about their research.” While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Paige developed a novel technique for "quantifying microbial abundance and quantifying fungal response to disturbances such as controlled burns.” She also became interested in "how climate change and land use conversion alters soil fungal and bacterial community composition, both at the soil's surface and deep underground... and how these compositional shifts can impact plant communities and biogeochemical cycling."
     This fall, Paige is working in the Sikes Lab with Dr. Benjamin Sikes, Assistant Professor of EEB, Assistant Scientist with the Kansas Biological Survey (KBS), and part of the MAPS plant systems research team. Her MAPS research focuses on “how the structure (abundance and composition) and function of bacterial and fungal communities at different soil depths in native prairies, restored prairies, and agricultural fields change in response to alterations in historical precipitation regime.” She explained, “I'm trying to figure out how bacteria and fungi might respond to precipitation changes associated with climate change, and contribute to the ongoing debate on whether microbial community structure or function matters more to healthy ecosystem functioning.”
    As an undergraduate, Paige received the following research recognitions: Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Fellowship, KU Undergraduate Research Award, KU Undergraduate Biology Research Award, the KU Honors Opportunity Award, the Freeman Foundation Scholarship for East Asia Internships, and the Plains Area Director’s Research Scholarship. She also was involved in the KU Global Scholars Program, the KU University Honors Program, and the KU Undergraduate Biology BioScholars Program. In addition, Paige has presented her undergraduate research at the 6th Annual K-INBRE Symposium, the Argonne Soil Metagenomics Meeting, and the Central Region IDeA Conference.  And, Paige has co-authored a paper for publication titled Recurrent fires do not affect the abundance of soil fungi in a frequently burned pine savanna with T. A. Semenova-Nelsen, W. J. Platt, and B. A. Sikes. As for her future plans, Paige said, “I would love to be a professor at a research institution, or do anything that involves soil and microbes and that lets me travel!”

The Self fellows are nominated by their academic departments and are selected based on their “individual achievement in leadership and scholarship, potential to make significant contributions to society, and ability to envision and attain goals that require exceptional energy and tenacity.” This award is the third fellowship endowed by the Selfs at the University of Kansas, joining the Self Graduate Fellowship program for doctoral students and the Self Engineering Leadership Fellowship program for undergraduate students. Eleven students were selected as the 2018-2019 Self Graduating Senior Fellows.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

MAPS science team meets to discuss year one accomplishments and plans for year two

Year 1 Science Meeting Group at Konza Prairie Biological Station
     On November 16, 2018, faculty and students working on the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) gathered at the Konza Prairie Biological Station near Manhattan, KS to discuss accomplishments and challenges that occurred during year one as well as review and modify research plans for year two. The morning began with a welcome from Walter Dodds, a co-principal investigator (co-PI) for the MAPS project and member of aquatic systems research team. Then, the junior faculty team leaders for the aquatic, plant and soil systems research groups each gave a ten minute research update that was followed by a five minute discussion addressing challenges and the proposed research plans for year two. Discussions on project modeling and data management issues followed the team presentations. Over the lunch hour, MAPS students participated in a poster session. Twelve undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University presented their research on the following MAPS topics:
  • Methane Oxidation in Native Prairie Soil 
  • Do novel inputs to the Kansas River affect the water or sediment microbiome and water chemistry? 
  • The Effects of Climate and Land Use on Methanotropic Communities
  • Plant-soil Microbiome Feedback Impacts on Native and Non-native Grasses Throughout Kansas
  • Soil health across a precipitation gradient with different land uses
  • Impact of Drying and Rewetting Cycles on Microbial Communities in Tallgrass Prairie
  • Effects of Land Management on the Microbial Community, Soil Structure, and Nutrient Dynamics of Cultivated Grain Sorghum
  • Recurrent fires do not affect the abundance of soil fungi in a frequently-burned pine savanna
  • A Mechanistic Model of Plant-Symbiont Interactions
  • How roots and microbes transform decaying organic matter into bioavailable phosphorus: pH as a master variable
  • Time Series Transcriptomic Responses to Drought in Maize Seedings
  • Impact of Land Use on Groundwater Chemistry and Microbial Communities in Great Bend Prairie Aquifers
     Breakout sessions were held in the afternoon to discuss research methods and sites locations specific to each research team, followed by a whole group discussion synthesizing year one's findings. Publications and data sharing policies made up the final session for the day. Research team members who were unable to physically attend the meeting, were able to participate in the sessions through video conferencing.

Funding for the Science Meeting was provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The award's research, workforce development, and educational objectives are designed to enhance research capacity and STEM education in Kansas, expand the STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Girl Scouts of the Kansas Heartland learn about fungi

     On Saturday, November 3, 2018, Theo Michaels and Jacob Hopkins presented a lesson module on fungi to the Girls Scouts of the Kansas Heartland during the 2018 Girl Scout STEM Expo at Camp Tongawood in Tonganoxie, KS.  Both Michaels and Hopkins are Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) PhD candidates at the University of Kansas (KU) working in the Sikes Microbial Laboratory with Dr. Benjamin Sikes, Assistant Professor of EEB at KU, Assistant Scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey (KBS), and Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS) plant systems research team member. Michaels is also a member of the MAPS research team.
     About two years ago, Andrew Mongue and Kaila Colyott, two KU EEB Graduate Student Organization (GSO) members, and some local girl scout troops collaborated to create this event. Hopkins added, “Due to their fantastic efforts and the success of the first event, the event was held again this year." Both Michaels and Hopkins were invited to participate by Anna Klompen, the current KU EEB GSO outreach committee chair, who was instrumental in planning this year's event.
Jacob Hopkins and Theo Michaels
teaching Girl Scouts about fungi
    The 2018 STEM Expo presenters were asked to develop “a module that educated scouts in particular STEM fields.” Hopkins explained, “The modules were designed to be an informative and interactive way to get scouts interested in science.” In addition, some of the modules were designed to meet badge requirements. Hopkins described the module he and Michaels taught as follows: “In our module, we taught the girls about the basics of fungi, what mushrooms are, mushroom anatomy, basic microscopy, how to recognize Kansas mushrooms, mushroom safety, and how to grow their own fungi. The fungi basics and safety sections were composed of light lecture. The mushroom anatomy was a hands-on activity where scouts identified parts of a provided mushroom (purchased at the grocery store). The Recognizing mushrooms portion relied on KU herbarium specimens to teach the scouts about edible mushrooms in Kansas and their poisonous look-a-likes. The Grow your own fungi activity allowed the girls to plate fungi from different sources (i.e. fingers, leaves, sticks, rocks, shoes) on a petri dish that they got to take home and record what grew.”
     When Hopkins and Michaels were asked why they wanted to participate in the Girl Scout STEM Expo, Hopkins said “We participated because scientific outreach opportunities are key for: a) educating the general public about what scientists do, b) showing off how wonderful the world around us is, and c) providing a strong platform for getting scouts interested in STEM fields at a young age. Also, developing and presenting outreach modules is a lot of fun.” Michaels went on to add that the activity provided “a good chance for the girl scouts to talk to real live scientists about science, what it takes to be a scientist, and how to foster their interests moving forward. It also gives them a chance to see how science is a lens by which to explore our world and ask questions that can both directly and indirectly pertain to our daily lives.”
     In addition to Hopkins’ and Michaels’ module, “there were several other STEM modules presented by KU EEB GSO students at the event.”  Multiple troops from across Kansas, made up of about 80 Girl Scouts, attended the 2018 STEM Expo.