ABRC Education & Outreach: 2019 Year-in-Review

The Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) maintained a strong focus on education and outreach throughout 2019. Together with the Center for Applied Plant Sciences, ABRC’s 2019 outreach programs reached more than 5,440 individuals. Program participants included members of the community (3,840+), K-12 students (400+), K-12 teachers (1,080+), and members of the University community and other professionals (110+). ABRC’s outreach program focuses on four main activities: 1) developing and disseminating education materials, 2) facilitating teacher professional development, 3) facilitating K-12 student programs, and 4) organizing and participating in community events.

Much of ABRC’s outreach success is dependent on collaborations with community partners and local school districts, and involvement in established outreach programs. Throughout 2019 ABRC participated in a number of programs including Franklin Park Conservatory’s Green STEM Girls program and Pollinator Palooza event, as well as COSI’s Farm Days and Big Science Celebration events. Other programs from 2019 include the Technology Showcase at the Ohio State Fair hosted by the Ohio Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and Ohio State’s Patternz Summer Camp and Breakfast of Science Champions programs. ABRC served as one of the lead organizers of Ohio State’s third annual West Campus Science and Sustainability Festival (WestFest). 

Participation in local, regional and national conferences allows ABRC to reach teachers and outreach professionals across the country. In 2019, ABRC staff presented and exhibited at three education and outreach-focused conferences including the Science Education Council of Ohio’s Science Symposium (2 sessions + exhibit hall), the National Science Teaching Association’s Regional Conference (exhibit hall), and the National Alliance for Broader Impacts’ Broader Impacts Summit (poster presentation).

In 2019 ABRC launched an exciting new program called SPROUT (STEM Professionals Reaching Out). Through SPROUT, plant science researchers are provided with intensive science communication training, one-on-one consultations and individual support for the development of hands-on activities and integration into ABRC’s existing outreach infrastructure. The first cohort of SPROUTs was formed in the fall of 2019, with a total of five participants for the inaugural year of the program. ABRC offered a series of three science communication workshops in association with the SPROUT program. In addition to SPROUT participants, these workshops were open to Ohio State researchers from all STEM disciplines. ABRC expects the SPROUT program to become a foundational part of its outreach initiatives, with new cohorts being formed on an annual basis.

Finally, ABRC continued its focus on the development and dissemination of high quality teaching resources to support the integration of plant science in K-16 education. ABRC currently has 26 education kits available. ABRC education kits consist of downloadable resources such as ready-to-teach lab protocols, grading rubrics, background information and more, along with the Arabidopsis seeds necessary to teach the lab. In 2019 two existing ABRC modules – Who Turned Out the Lights? and Germination - got an upgrade with additional background information and new supporting documents added to the kits. Excitingly, 2019 marked the best year for education kit distribution with more than 600 kits shipped globally.

ABRC offers a variety of outreach programs available to schools and community organizations throughout Central Ohio. If you would like to book an outreach program, please call (614) 292-8208 or email us at ABRCedu@osu.edu.