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Monday, December 11, 2017

MAPS Outreach Team Teaches a Lesson on Seed Dispersal to 3rd graders

Teaching students at New Your Elementary
   As part of the RII Track 1 EPSCoR Award, Microbiomes in Aquatic, Plants and Soils across Kansas, Education and Outreach (MAPS), education and outreach initiatives, Dr. Peggy Schultz has designed interactive elementary lessons related to the research.  On December 6, 2017, Dr. Schultz traveled with Ben Kerbs and Rebecca Wagoner, her lab assistants, as well as Tita Soberon, Project Teaching Adviser, to New York Elementary in Lawrence, KS to present a lesson on Seed Dispersal to Mr. John Bode’s third grade class.  The goals of the lesson were to 1) allow students to discover and learn the many ways seeds are dispersed; 2) examine different seeds and their dispersal methods; and 3) understand how animals aid seed dispersal.
Students create and test their seeds
    After a brief introduction on what plants need to live, students played a game of tag simulating how squirrels gather acorns for the winter and what happens to the nuts, or seeds, when they encounter their natural predators. If tagged in the game, students had to stop and dump their acorns at the tagged spot. This represented one way animals disperse seeds.  Back in the classroom, students played a game that involved rolling in feathers to simulate how seeds can be transported in an animal’s fur. Then, Ben and Rebecca led brief small group lessons demonstrating how some real seeds float, fly, explode and roll in order to disperse.  Following the small group discussions, students designed and created their own seed.  Once finished constructing their seed, they tested their creation on ramps, in water and in a breeze to see which method of dispersal worked best.  As the lesson concluded, Mr. Bode led the class discussion to check for understanding and to make connections between the seed dispersal lesson and other science topics the class had studied so far this year.  The students really enjoyed the lesson and hoped that Dr. Schultz and her team would come back again.
     This Seed Dispersal lesson was designed to align with the Kansas 3rd grade Next Generation Science Standards.  As part of the MAPS outreach, Dr. Schultz plans to teach this lesson and others to more 3rd grade classrooms in the spring of 2018.

Education and outreach funding 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 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.