GWIS Girl Scouts "Plant Life" Workshop
The Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) organized a day full of plant related activities and lessons to fulfill the requirements of the Girl Scouts' "Plant Life" badge. The topics included everything from soil science to genetic engineering. Our team developed an immersive lesson on plant pests that taught the girls about the differences between organic and conventional agriculture; the use of different pest control techniques, and how to use host-specificity to control pests. This was a great opportunity to teach about important plant science topics and get young women interested in pursuing careers in Science!
The girl scouts were given the opportunity to determine the preferred host plant of the Tobacco Hornworm with their own experiment. The girls placed hornworm larva on petri plates and presented them with tobacco and geranium leaves. They girls recorded which leaves the hornworms moved around the room to physically represent the result. The positions of the girls in the room were recorded and they were able to see their results on a graph. The girls loved the interactivity of this exercise and enjoyed learning about the biology of the hornworms.
Because the lessons were indoors it was a challenge for us to convey concepts on the large field scale. To get our points across with hands-on activities the girls were given "mini farms" covered in real tomato and onion plants. To learn about some of the differences and similarities between organic and non-organic pest control the girls broke up into teams and raced to put on all of the recommended PPE from real pesticide labels (synthetic and OMRI approved). Once suited up they sprayed plants with colored water and observed where the over-spray went; learning that pesticides have many ways they can enter the environment. The girl scouts then learned about mulch and rotation by doing just that to their mini farms.
The girls all went home with their own tomato plants and this factsheet I designed so that they would hopefully carry the principles they learned back to their own gardens!