I’ve just posted an interview with Hedi Baxter Lauffer Director of Teaching & Learning with the Wisconsin Fast Plants Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We discuss the development of Rapid Cycling Brassica rapa (FastPlants) as a tool for studying crop disease, and its evolution into a versatile life sciences teaching tool. Fast Plants live their entire life cycle in about 42 days.
Think of how powerful that is, for about $15 you get plants that go from germination to finished seed in about 42 days and thrive indoors under grow lights. Teaching or homeschooling in a cold climate? you can still teach a full plant biology curriculum in the middle of winter with a few LED grow lights.
In the interview she talks about the Posoh project, where they used Fast Plants as a model organism to teach forestry to members of the Menominee nation. You can learn more about that project over at the Posoh Project.
Whats more, you can teach simple and complex genetics over the course of almost a dozen generations a year. The supplier, Carolina Biological Supply, sells several varieties fixed for traits which are perfect for teaching Mendelian inheritance. Other forms of inheritance experiments would also be trivial to develop considering the fast turnover in generations.
If your teaching at a lower level Bottle Biology has you covered with an easy affordable bottle based project to teach about the integrated nature of ecosystems. TerrAqua Column – What is the Land-Water Connection? explores the links between land based and freshwater based ecosystems using Wisconsin Fast Plants.
You can find a wealth of free resources over at the Fast Plants Library, between that and their free Lesson Plans its an amazing resource for Teachers, Homeschoolers, Educators, Science Fairs, and parents looking for something to do with their kids over the weekend. Give it a good look.
Be sure to Signup for their Blog Posts so you don’t miss anything. I would like to thank Hedi Lauffer for being on the show, and I hope you get alot out of this one.