Individual partnerships and outreach

Example 1A plant geneticist at the University of Wisconsin approached teachers at Madison West High School
    ( to find students to help conduct experiments as part of her
    Plant Genome Research Program grant. In turn, the teachers developed their own expectations for
    the partnership: opportunities for their students to do ``real'' science, learn about scientific inquiry,
    and improve their scientific literacy (e.g., What is genetic engineering? What is genomics?). The
    scientist supplied mutant and wild-type plant seeds for the students, defined a set of growth environ-
    ments, and demonstrated how she collects data. With the teachers' help, the students then grew
    plants, collected data about plant growth and development, and reported their findings back to
    the scientist.
Example 2Scientists often become involved in K–12 education through their own children's schools. In some
    cases, these informal interactions can blossom into sustained relationships among the scientist,
    teachers, and students. Sarah Hake, an adjunct faculty member at the University of California at
    Berkeley, directs the Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, California. In the late 1980s, she and
    her son's science teacher, Don Jolley, were awarded an American Society for Cell Biology grant for
    Jolley to spend a summer in Hake's lab where she studies plant development and genetics. The
    grant included a small equipment budget that Jolley used to buy a microscope and camera attach-
    ment. During the school year, the pair set up experiments with Jolley's sixth-grade students, including
    Hake's son. They used the microscope extensively, observing mitotic figures in root tips as well as
    simpler plant phenotypes. Hake and Jolley continued to collaborate even after both of her sons
    finished sixth grade, and Hake expanded her effort to work with seventh- and eighth-grade classes.
    The older students performed experiments of their own design such as growing Arabidopsis in
    different environmental conditions to assess their physiological responses. The projects often utilized
    research materials from her own lab such as maize mutants and plants expressing cell-specific
    markers. Hake also encouraged her lab members to participate in K–12 education, often inviting
    graduate students to work with the middle school students. When asked why she continued to work
    with Don and his students, she responded: ``I was awed by his teaching powers. I learned how to
    explain things better working with Don. I also loved getting to know the youth of our town and
    when I see them in town, they all say `Hi.' They can also share their experiences of `recombinant
    DNA' with their parents and thus defuse the scary myths.''
Example 3Marty Yanofsky is a professor of biology at the University of California at San Diego where his group
    studies the molecular mechanisms of flower and fruit development. He and a colleague, Ethan
    Bier, developed an undergraduate course on plant and animal development, including the social
    and ethical implications of biotechnology and genetic modification. They became interested in
    sharing this information with the broader community, especially children, because of their belief
    that people need to be knowledgeable about the underlying biological concepts to be able to make
    informed decisions about complex issues such as human cloning and genetically modified foods.
    Yanofsky and Bier both had elementary-school-age children and felt that even young students could
    begin to understand genetics concepts. Using their scientific expertise and experiences with their
    own children, the pair presented concepts at a level suitable for elementary students using a hands-
    on experimental approach that would be both fun and informative. For example, students saw
    how their grandparents' characteristics could ``disappear'' in their parents and then reappear in
    themselves. The students followed the segregation of mutant and wild-type characteristics in fruit
    flies and plants to see the same principles at work in animals and plants. They also isolated DNA
    from broccoli to see the molecule underlying this phenomenon. Yanofsky and Bier are frequently
    asked: Is DNA safe to eat? They respond by asking the students: Where did you isolate it from?
    Yanofsky and Bier think that this dispels some of the fears about eating genetically modified plants.
    They hope that these efforts will help children and, ideally, their families better understand and
    make informed decisions about topics that affect their lives and perhaps spark a young child's
    interest in science.