[Plant-education] First-year plant lab

Jon Monroe via plant-ed%40net.bio.net (by monroejd from jmu.edu)
Wed Jul 20 13:09:08 EST 2011

Thanks for the reply, Janice.  We're rather space limited now, but we'll 
be moving into a new building in a year.  This is a large course: 17 
sections of 24 students each semester, currently taught in one lab 
room.  In the new building there will be two rooms.  We don't have 
adequate greenhouse space now, but that should change.  Currently, we 
grow several kinds of plants on growth carts in the lab, and that much 
of it works but the lab itself is what we're looking to change.  We're 
aiming for something halfway between a cookbook lab and one where 
students generate independent questions.


Janice Glime wrote:
> Jon,
>   Do you have adequate facilities for growing things?  Students could 
> ask various questions about how the phyla handle light or moisture 
> alteration or nutrients, or they could culture gametophytes and 
> compare viability or time to maturation or requirements.  Tropisms are 
> fun, but only need a few days; they could ask questions about light vs 
> gravity in a variety of kinds of plants (phyla) and compare these to 
> their common habitats.  I am thinking it might be fun to experiment 
> with pillbugs and look at herbivory on the various phyla, then look at 
> protein, carbohydrate, and defense compounds and compare these with 
> growth rate and where the plants live.  That would take less room and 
> could probably be done with one plant group at a time if necessary, or 
> a series of experiments.  Do you have any opportunity for a field trip 
> to see the various phyla?  Students could hypothesize about protein, 
> carbohydrate, defense, and degree of herbivory based on field 
> observations and design some experiments to test their hypotheses.  
> Feeding experiments are fun and lead to more questions.  Students 
> could develop a second set of hypotheses related to seasons, kind of 
> herbivores, food preferences, why those preferences.  This could be 
> used to tie together many concepts of evolution, systematics, ecology, 
> and physiology.
> Janice
> On 7/19/2011 11:47 PM, Jon Monroe wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> We're looking for an investigative, multi-week plant lab to use in a 
>> first-year biology course.  Do you have such a lab that works well 
>> and that students like?  Our course is called Organisms and it is a 
>> walk through the nodes of the phylogenetic tree, so it isn't a 
>> diversity course, but it isn't heavily cellular either.  Thanks!
>> Jon

Jonathan Monroe, Professor
Department of Biology
820 Madison Dr.  MSC 7801
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
540-568-6649, http://www.jmu.edu/biology/

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