ABRC 2018 Education & Outreach Year-in-Review

The Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC), together with the Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS), supports a growing suite of outreach and education programs designed to raise awareness about the important role plants play in our daily lives, promote the inclusion of plant sciences in K-16 education, and engage learners of all ages in fun, hands-on science experiences. Through a combination of on-campus programming, classroom visits, school events, and community partnerships, ABRC and CAPS reached more than 6,500 individuals in 2018. This number represents a significant increase in our Centers’ outreach impact, and includes more than 5,100 members of the general public, 800 K-16 students, 550 K-12 teachers and 70 faculty, staff, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. Our outreach impact not only grew in terms of total attendance but also in reach, with teachers and students from eight Central Ohio school districts benefiting from our programs and workshops.

ABRC and CAPS, together with partners from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and the Office of Energy and Environment, once again served as organizers for the annual WestFest event. WestFest showcases advances in science, technology, sustainability and outreach from The Ohio State University in an interactive, family-friendly event that draws people to Ohio State’s often overlooked West Campus. In addition to WestFest, ABRC participated in other main and regional campus events including Breakfast of Science Champions and Science of Agriculture. Beyond campus, ABRC participated in the November Franklinton Friday event at the STEAM Factory, facilitated activities at the Ohio State Fair, presented and exhibited at the SECO Science Symposium, and presented to the Central Ohio Education Service Center’s Math and Science Network.

ABRC has strong partnerships with both COSI and the Franklin Park Conservatory. The Center participates in school programs and community events held by each organization on an annual basis. In 2018, ABRC and CAPS facilitated plant science activities at a COSI After Dark program, and served as supporting sponsors for COSI’s annual Farm Days event. For the second year in a row, ABRC and CAPS participated in FPC’s Pollinator Palooza event. In addition, we serve as a program partner for FPC’s new Green STEM Girls after school program at the Columbus City Prep School for Girls. This new program highlights women in science while engaging middle school students in science and sustainability focused programming. As a part of this partnership, women scientists, graduate students and staff from ABRC, CAPS, and TPS visit the Green STEM Girls program to talk about their careers and facilitate plant science activities.  

While our program offerings continued to grow in 2018, so did our suite of resources for using Arabidopsis to teach science concepts in K-16 education. A number of new education kits became available this year, including our first ever module designed for elementary level instruction, as well as a handful of kits developed to complement the Teaching Tools in Plant Biology resources. To date, there are nine Greening the Classroom kits that were developed and tested by ABRC. These kits include robust laboratory protocols and other supporting materials. An additional 17 education kits (known as TRAINED) have been donated by the Arabidopsis research and education community. Education kits continue to be available free of charge for K-12 instruction and for a small fee for higher education.

As we move into 2019, ABRC is looking forward to continuing its commitment to public outreach, education and community partnerships.