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Educational Resources and Outreach


Maize lends itself extremely well for use as an educational tool, and particularly to an integrated education approach. Scientifically, maize is one of the best examples of crop domestication and an excellent visual example of genetic inheritance. Due to its large size and fast growth, it is a good demonstration of the plant life cycle, and is also a good example of agricultural techniques such as intercropping. Maize can be used in education on many levels: while an elementary school child can learn about food and plants from growing maize in the school garden, a college student can use maize to study transposons. Furthermore, maize has played an important role throughout history and in many cultures, most particularly that of Native American and Meso-American peoples (Viola and Margolis, 1991). Finally, Barbara McClintock's fame as a woman scientist makes maize a good example of the impact of women in science. Thus, maize has the potential to be a useful educational tool integrating many disciplines and key concepts.

In collaboration with the Paleontological Research Institution's Museum of the Earth, we have recently developed a traveling science museum exhibit "Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain." Details and contact information are here. A photo gallery of the exhibit debut is here. The exhibit is currently at the University of Iowa through November 2011, then home for a quality check, after which it heads to the famous Corn Palace!

We have also developed a complementary Teacher Friendly Guide to the evolution of maize.

More Resources

Listen to a radio interview (on WICB's Science Cabaret) of Dr. Theresa Fulton discussing the Panzea project, maize as an educational tool, and the construction of a museum exhibit on maize evolution.

Frequently asked questions about the Panzea project are answered here, with links to a glossary.

Learn more about our project's collaborators:

Additional maize educational resources and links:

Contact Dr. Theresa Fulton for more information or with questions.

One of our previous projects brought the many-faceted story of maize directly to the students in schools. Mobile "story boards" were developed for placement in the hallway display cases of middle-high schools near each of the PIs home institutions. These boards explain the domestication of maize both from a historical and a genetics perspective. They are made in sections that are easy to assemble and disassemble.

Downloadable and web-viewable slide presentations of our storyboards are also available for use in classrooms:
  • The Maize Domestication slide presentation highlights the major steps in the process by which ancient humans domesticated wild teosinte plants to create the corn we know today.  [View on the web]  [Download]
  • The History of Maize slide presentation highlights the cultural and historical aspects of Maize around the world.  [View on the web]  [Download]
  • The Barbara McClintock story board highlights the amazing scientific career of this inspirational, Nobel prize-winning trailblazer.  [View]  [Download]
  • The Biofuel: An Alternative to Fossil Fuel slide presentation discusses the need for and future potential of biofuels.  [Download]
  • Also available in Spanish! The Maize Domestication, the History of Maize, and the Biofuels slide presentations.
Contact Dr. Theresa Fulton to request the boards for your school or with any other questions.

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