The Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS) and the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) had an eventful year in 2016 when it comes to engaging the community in science learning. Throughout the year, our two centers reached more than 4,600 people through outreach and education initiatives. We are proud to announce that our programs reached 495 students, 1,537 teachers, and 2,575 families and other members of the general public.
CAPS and ABRC provide programs for students and teachers on-site in Rightmire Hall, as well as in schools, and at education conferences. Last year, we offered programs to six different schools in five school districts in Central Ohio. In addition, our staff presented at two education conferences: the Science Education Council of Ohio’s annual conference in January, and the National Science Teachers Association area conference in December. We also participated in two OSU hosted events: the Science of Agriculture event on the OARDC campus in Wooster, and the Breakfast of Science Champions program on the Columbus campus.
The year provided many opportunities to leverage existing partnerships, as well as to create new ones throughout the community. CAPS and ABRC participated in two public events at COSI in 2016. We facilitated activities for COSI’s Backyard Science Day event in the spring, and participated in all five days of COSI’s annual Farm Days event. We came together for the first time with the Franklin Park Conservatory to co-host a public forum exploring the applications and impacts of CRISPR, a relatively new technology for genetic engineering.
In an effort to expand our toolkit of activities and build new educational opportunities in Central Ohio and beyond, CAPS and ABRC applied for and were awarded funding and material support for our education and outreach programs. In the spring, we were one of approximately 200 institutions awarded a Building with Biology kit filled with hands-on activities and lesson plans for engaging the public in conversations around the topic of synthetic biology. We were also awarded a Building with Biology stipend, which provided financial support for the public forum we held in partnership with the Franklin Park Conservatory. Finally, CAPS was awarded an American Society of Plant Biologists Plant BLOOME grant to support the development of a new interactive videoconferencing program at COSI. This program for middle and high school students will pair COSI educators with PhD Fellows from the Translational Plant Sciences Graduate Program at OSU to introduce students to plant sciences through hands-on demonstrations and experiments.