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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Conover, Margaret [1].

Chia: An Inexpensive Organism for Student Inquiry in an Interdisciplinary and Ethnobotanical Context.

Strategies for creating authentic student inquiry in the classroom must consider the limitations of both the classroom environment and of student prior experience and interest in the subject matter. In the intermediate grades, independent student science projects could provide opportunities for inquiry, but more often produce displays of well-worn demonstration projects. We have developed a series of educational experiences involving chia (Salvia hispanica), a plant with which students are very familiar through television commercials for the Chia PetTM, the "pottery that grows." As the subject of science inquiry activities, chia seeds are easy to work with, and have multiple interdisciplinary connections that motivate learning. Seeds germinate quickly on any moist surface and tolerate a wide variety of experimental treatments, the results of which can be seen within less than 5 days, and in some cases, within 90 minutes. Students can design controlled investigations based upon a simple, inexpensive setup using household materials. Further, their interest in chia seeds is motivated by opportunities for interdisciplinary learning: this very nutritious seed was an important Mesoamerican food and oil crop, and it is now being promoted as a so-called “superfood.” Ties to studies of earth science, history, health, home and careers, and art are rich and varied. We have developed a 6 week curriculum for intermediate grades, and will share ideas for applications at secondary and undergraduate levels.

Broader Impacts:
According to the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education of the National Academies, engaging students in scientific inquiry helps students develop an understanding of the nature of science, the skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world, and the dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science. This is the “Science as Inquiry” standard of the National Science Education Standards which has been adopted in most states.

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Related Links:
Chia Labs

1 - Stony Brook University, Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook, NY, 11794-5245, USA

inquiry-based learning

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Hall A/Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PTE002
Abstract ID:656

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