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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.
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.
Learn more about our project's collaborators:
Additional maize educational resources and links:
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:
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