The end of the 2017-18 school year brought with it the end of the first official year of Plant Solutions for Global Problems, a new Interactive Videoconference program focused on plant sciences available at COSI. This new program, which was funded by an American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Plant BLOOME grant, came about through a collaboration between the Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS), the Translational Plant Sciences (TPS) Graduate Program, and COSI.
Together, faculty, staff and graduate students from CAPS and TPS worked with educators from COSI to develop the program, which connects (virtually) students in classrooms across the country with educators at COSI. Once connected, students interact with a PhD fellow from the TPS program and a COSI educator throughout the hour-long live program. During the program, students learn about the various ways plants impact our daily lives while exploring topics such as bioproducts, alternative crops for natural rubber, our food system, and plant-microbe interactions. In advance of the program, teachers receive a robust set of lesson plans and materials providing everything they need to conduct the in-program experiment, as well as various pre/post-program activities.
The program was piloted in the spring of 2017, and officially made available for the 2017-18 school year. We are proud to say that in our first year we reached eleven classrooms in eight schools in two countries. All told, approximately 400 students in 6th – 12th grades participated. Thanks to our funding from the ASPB, we were able to offer scholarships to nine schools who otherwise might not have been able to afford this opportunity.
We look forward to continuing our partnership with COSI for another year of programming. Plant Solutions for Global Programs is available for the 2018-19 school year. In addition, scholarship funds will be available for schools that qualify. To learn more, apply for a scholarship and/or book a program, check out COSI’s website.