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Abstract Detail

Broader Impact: Tying Basic Research with Education

Renzaglia, Karen S. [1], Lopez-Smith, Renee A. [2].

Ceratopteris richardii in classrooms, community organizations and beyond: how to engage a new generation of learners.

Teaching, outreach to schools, community activities and involvement of underserved individuals all constitute means by which your science may have an impact beyond your research team and your discipline. Among the several plant model systems that are amenable to such endeavors, only the fern Ceratopteris richardii (C-FernĀ® from Carolina Biological and Wards Scientific Supply Companies) offers the opportunity to examine the fundamentals of the plant life cycle. Plants are grown in petri dishes from single-celled spores that germinate, grow and differentiate into gametophytes, the sexual phase of the life cycle. Swimming sperm cells are easily observed as is fertilization, embryo growth and sporophyte development. A rapid life cycle of about four weeks from spore to young sporophyte affords the opportunity to examine any stage of development. Hundreds of individuals are maintained on a single petri dish and thus population dynamics and genetic studies are feasible. Numerous mutants may be purchased and a user-friendly manual is available online ( We have routinely used the C-Fern in secondary and post-secondary classrooms as a pedagogical tool for inquiry learning. This fern has been incorporated into general biology, plant physiology, morphology and development courses for undergraduates. Graduate students are designing and implementing hands-on exercises in regional high school and middle school classrooms, as well as at the Boys and Girls Club. We are introducing C-Fern spores into PlantingScience (, the online teaching resource that supports scientific inquiry through teacher and student mentorship. This endeavor will facilitate the use of the C-Fern in classrooms around the world.

Broader Impacts:
The presentation is about broader impacts.

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Related Links:
C-Fern website
PlantingScience website

1 - Southern Illinois University, Department of Plant Biology, 1125 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901-6509, USA
2 - Southern Illinois University, Department of Plant Biology, 1125 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, IL, 62901-6509, USA


Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY6
Location: 556B/Convention Center
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Time: 9:45 AM
Number: SY6004
Abstract ID:651

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