KY EPSCoR: Integrating Collegiate Ecological and Molecular Research into the K-12 STEM Curriculum

Grants and Contracts Details


The activities outlined in this proposal integrate ecological and molecular research taking place at the University of Kentucky (UK) into the STEM curriculum at Garrard County High School in Lancaster KY, and Leestown Middle School in Lexington, KY. The proposal outlines a field study that investigates the interactions between two different strains of fungal endophytes that infect the common forage grass tall fescue. The two fungal strains differ in their ability to produce specific alkaloid compounds, which are chemicals involved in reducing mammalian and insect herbivory and provide a fitness advantage to the infected grass host. Replicated treatments of specific ratios of different endophyte-infected tall fescue will be planted at each location. The plots will become part of the permanent educational infrastructure at each school, where K-12 STEM students will investigate different biological phenomena in line with the framework of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Specifically, students will become valued collaborators in a longitudinal science experiment by sampling tall fescue plants for analysis by UK researchers, and observing and recording the impact of different endophytes on insect populations over time. The establishment of permanent educational infrastructure at each school will facilitate the integration of field research and empirically-based observations into the K-12 STEM curriculum. The proposal identifies specific Core Ideas of the NGSS that the research will address, and outlines procedures to develop and maintain online teaching modules. The modules will be produced in association with the STEM faculty at each school, ensuring that the material is appropriate for the student’s developmental level, and conforms to the framework outlined in the NGSS. The modules will be maintained and curated by the investigators, and will be publically available for any teachers to utilize.
Effective start/end date8/1/167/31/17


  • KY Council on Postsecondary Education


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