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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: "Who ate our corn?" We want to know and so should you!

item Wilson, Craig
item Lopez, Juan De Dios
item Scott, Timothy

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/12/2010
Publication Date: 9/30/2010
Citation: Wilson, C.T., Lopez, J., Scott, T.P. 2010. "Who ate our corn?" We want to know and so should you! In: Yager, R.E., editor. Exemplary Science for Resolving Societal Challenges. Arlington, VA. National Science Teachers Association. p. 51-68.

Interpretive Summary: There is a general lack of knowledge about agricultural science by the lay public, as people become ever farther removed from the land. This is especially true for public school students from inner city and urban environments. The problem is how to get information on agricultural sciences to these people. To address this problem, an Exemplary Science Program, Future Scientists, has been established. The Future Scientists Program is funded by the Southern Plains Area of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) / Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and administered through the Center for Mathematics and Science Education in the College of Science at Texas A&M University. Professional development opportunities provided by the Future Scientists Program help teachers create a sustainable science learning community by first linking them with USDA/ARS laboratories and ongoing research. A general link provides students with corn earworm larvae so that they can observe the insect’s life cycle as a learning experience. This program partnership is proving to be helpful in getting information about agriculture out into the educational and local communities. Also, USDA/ARS laboratories are becoming viewed as both an educational resource within a community and as a potential employer for students who choose to continue their studies in science and to perhaps enter the agricultural science career pipeline.

Technical Abstract: The Future Scientists Program is designed to assist USDA/Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program reach out to communities, schools (grades K-12) and undergraduates with hands-on, inquiry-based activities that link them with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, laboratory sites and agricultural science research. A summer Undergraduate Research Internship component allows for Texas A&M University undergraduates to be individually mentored by scientists at the USDA/ARS Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center at College Station, TX. In planned national expansion, the K-12 focus is on insect life cycles using the USDA/ARS Areawide Pest Management Research Unit’s research on corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), as a model. It is built around a question, “Who ate our corn?”. Teachers access a website to order larvae for their students that contains detailed instructions ( Larvae are shipped by the Research Unit at no cost to schools. The program based our of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, College of Science, Texas A&M University, is designed to inspire students (k-16) to continue their studies in science. It has the larger goal of reawakening the scientist in all of us. Society will be better served by a scientifically literate population, not only able to sxplore science, but to be in a position to question it.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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