“the fixer” aka “el fijador” getting cozy in a legume root – illustration by Julia Pollack and Jillian Nickel, IGB

Our group is involved in a number of activities dedicated to engaging the citizens of Champaign-Urbana, broadening participation in biology, and various other goals. Here are a few:

Cena y Ciencias:

Ivan Sosa Marquez is working as part of “Cena y Ciencias” and in collaboration with SACNAS, 4-H and  a number of other folks across the University of Illinois (including GEMS fearless leader Rachel Whitaker and Heath labbies David Vereau Gorbitz and Mario Ceron Romero) to provide science education to local kids and families in Spanish.

The purpouse of the Cena y Ciencias is to bring Hispanic families (specially children) role models in science, together with exciting experiments created by experts in many collaborating labs and institutions on U of I and beyond.

Developing K-12 curriculum materials aligned with Next Generation Science Standards:

Karla Griesbaum, in collaboration with Barbara Hug (UIUC Curriculum and Instruction) has been working on developing a lesson plan for elementary students grades 5th-8th that uses hands-on discovery, student origination of experimental design, and trial-and-error based science that promotes not only big ideas that stick, but also grows a love for science and exploration. This specific lesson is based off the NGSS unit of Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics. The students will be exploring plant-fungal interactions and lead them to develop their own questions and means to answer those questions.

Example of an Investigation Outline for NGSS lesson plans

5th grade students at White Heath School investigate mycorrhizal fungi and develop their own investigation.

Genome Day and World of Genomics:

Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology postdoctoral fellow Rebecca Batstone has developed Last Microbe Standing, a board game about mobile elements and evolution in microbes – check it out here. She ran the game at two major IGB outreach events, including WoG in DC in 2019! Together with IGB designers Julia Pollack and Jillian Nickel, we worked up some cute cartoons to enhance our displays at the event, including this one featuring our favorite guy, the Fixer:

Each June: Campers Explore Biology!

Campers Explore Biology Summer camp: Together with Carla Caceres and Alex Harmon-Threatt, Katy runs a week-long summer camp for middle-school girls, in partnership with Katie Hicks and the Champaign Park District.

Summer 2017:

Arctic ecology teacher workshop: As part of our collaborative grant with Barbara Hug, Feng Sheng Hu, Jonathan Greenberg, and Bo Li, Barbara and graduate students organized and led a 3-day teacher workshop. Classroom modules addressing Next Generation Science Standards were developed based on our research approaches (e.g., upcoming Fernandez et al. paper on using genetics to reconstruct species histories). Topics and activities draw on the fields of genomics, phylogeography, ecosystem ecology, species distribution modeling, and statistics and focus on how plants are responding to global change.

Integrative Biology IB546: Amplify the Signal:

Amplify the Signal: Communicating Science Beyond a Scientific Audience
Katy and collaborator Elizabeth Bagley developed this graduate course on broader impacts, outreach, and science communication course (hopefully she can teach this again soon). Last time, we focused on writing written and recorded pieces about graduate research in SIB for the local Champaign-Urbana community. We also ran a Biodiversity Day at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum. See the news article here for more info.