Smile Politely

The Institute of Genomic Biology has been teaching middle schoolers about plants and pollen for 10 years

A greenhouse with rows of corn stalks, with the tops covered by bags. There are kids standing amongst the rows.
Carl R. Woese Institute of Genomic Biology on Facebook

Last month, the Carl R. Woese Institute of Genomic Biology hosted their annual Pollen Power summer camp, which began in 2013. The aim of the camp is “exposing middle schoolers to topics in plant biology while providing strong female mentorship.”

After operating virtually for the past few years, the camp was back in person this year, with students entering 5th-8th grades learning from IGB folks and working alongside staff mentors from Franklin STEAM Academy. From the IGB website:

Together, they designed week-long experiments to test the growth rate of cress seeds under various conditions. Some plants were given coffee or sports drinks instead of water, others were grown on paper towels or within plastic bags instead of in a dirt cup, and one team even tried placing their plant within a fridge to see what would happen. As one might guess, the plants given water and access to sunlight grew the best, though the campers discovered that the seeds placed in a plastic bag also grew well, likely due to the enclosure creating a greenhouse-like effect.

And that is just one of the many hands-on activities they experienced during the five day camp. You can read more at the IGB website.

This isn’t the only outreach IGB does with young people in the community. They work with Franklin students throughout the school year, have showed up in Champaign Park District programs, and you can find them at Science at the Market a few times during the summer.

Managing Editor

More Articles