Plant Research Immersion – PSI Science teachers take part lab activities based on the early detection of the citrus greening pathogen. Activities include 1) lectures on plant pathogens and the impacts of plant diseases such as the potato late blight, rice blast, and citrus greening, and 2) laboratory experiences that allow participants to amplify real DNA samples isolated from citrus trees in Florida and perform agarose gel electrophoresis to determine which trees are infected by the citrus greening bacterial pathogen. In addition, the teachers learn the DNA isolation technique (Fujikawa, Miyata, & Iwanami, 2013) by isolating DNA from peach tree leaves. Other activities include presentations on research projects currently taking place in Dr. Fu’s laboratory. These experiences introduce the teachers to the concept of plant disease, and perhaps stimulate interest in plant science. They also demonstrate how plant science can be used to help deal with practical problems.
Plant Process Investigations – Dr. Thompson engages PSI science teachers in a series of problem-centered plant investigations. For example, participants engage in an instructional sequence centered on the fate of a healthy plant sealed in a jar (Terrarium). Participants create scientific models that capture their thinking about the fate of the plant, observe the sealed plant over time, complete a series of guided inquiry activities centered on targeted plant processes (transpiration, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration), and revise their scientific models as new information is gathered. During the guided inquiry activities participants learn how to demonstrate oxygen and carbon dioxide gas production in plants, measure starch production by plants, investigate water movement through plants, and find out how scientists came to understand these complex, interconnected processes.
Plant Structure Investigations – Dr. Thompson engages participants in a series of activities designed to make plant structures, and their related functions, clear for learners. For example, participants learn to use cardboard paper towels rolls to demonstrate how vascular tissue in plants helps support stems and branches, and to use plastic straws and food-dyed water to show how plants transport water and nutrients. The Botanical Society of American featured these activities as award winning curriculum.