Public Release: 

Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz awarded ASPB foundation grant for science education public outreach

American Society of Plant Biologists

ROCKVILLE - Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz, Professor of Biology and Chair, Division of Biology at California Institute of Technology has won funding from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) 2007 Grant Awards Program. The ASPB Education Foundation awards up to $30,000 to ASPB members conducting research projects that will advance plant biology through K-16 education and public outreach activities.

Meyerowitz and collaborator Dr. Martha Kirouac at Huntington Library and Botanical Garden in nearby San Marino, CA will use his 2007 GAP award to create a teacher-training program in coordination with the Botanical Educators group at The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA and Botancial Gardens, including Dr. Martha Kirouac, in San Marino, CA. The program will use plants as model systems to address state biology standards in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD).

Meyerowitz will coordinate this district-wide professional development program for all PUSD high school biology teachers. Teachers will attend six professional development workshops throughout the school year. They will use the state-of-the-art laboratory spaces in the Huntington's new Botanical Center. And of course, they can take advantage of The Huntington's 11 acres covered with 14 gardens of distinctly different botanical themes.

Workshops will be timed to coordinate with district schedules so that teachers will have the new methods and materials ready to go when they actually need them in their classrooms. Based on Huntington's summer course called Grounding in Botany, the workshops are designed to help teachers explore the diverse learning opportunities inherent in plant studies. The workshops will show precisely how to align plant model knowledge and related lab skills with the school district's guidelines and textbooks. Workshop topics will include: scientific literacy, cellular biology, genetics, evolution, physiology and ecology.

Teachers will increase their content knowledge, lab skills and comfort levels with plants as model systems. These teacher improvements are expected to positively impact student performance on the state biology exam. In addition to the workshops, there also will be a meeting at the start of the academic year to discuss pacing of the materials.

The teachers will be able to reach over 1,800 students in an underserved community in the first year. The GAP award will make it possible for each teacher to take the necessary plant science materials back to his or her classroom. The availability of proper materials and the quality of teacher training are critical since this biology course may be the only natural science class many of these students ever take.

Meyerowitz and partners also plan to develop this series of workshops into a program that could be used in any school district. Continued dissemination of the program will spread the word that plants are effective model systems.

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ASPB, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, was founded in 1924 as the American Society of Plant Physiologists. This professional society has a membership of 5,000 plant scientists from the United States and more than 50 other nations. ASPB publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals in the world: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.

Contacts:
Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz
meyerow@caltech.edu
626.395.6889

Brian Hyps
bhyps@aspb.org
301.251.0560 ext 114

Katie Engen
katie@aspb.org
301.251.0560 ext 116

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