Science Excellence at the 2015 Show-Me Nature GK-12 Research Symposium

The 3rd Annual BGREEN Research Symposium was a resounding success! The event was held on April 25, 2015 in the Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus and featured 87 students scientists. Along with their teachers, graduate student mentors, and undergraduate student interns, these 1st, 4th and 5th graders presented the results of yearlong environmental science research projects to their families, MU faculty, and the public. The projects presented included research from Rock Bridge Elementary on bird diversity and Fairview Elementary on whether native birds prefer seeds of native prairie plants. Several project focused on the health of Columbia streams looking at chemical content (Derby Ridge Elementary), litter (Grant Elementary) and benthic macroinvertebrates to determine water quality (Paxton Keeley Elementary). Students from Midway Heights Elementary presented research on the diversity of fungus on their school grounds, students from Lee Elementary presented research on efficacy of ancient agricultural practices, and the students of Two-Mile Prairie Elementary developed a digital field guide for their school’s forest, prairie and pond habitats. Partners from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Environmental Education Association shared environmental literacy resources with students and families. To read more about the student projects, please check out the 2015 Virtual Symposium link.


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ShowMe Nature GK12 Inspires Excellence at the 2014 Ecological Society of America Meeting!

John Nies

John Nies presents his poster at 2014 ESA Meeting.

The research of ShowMe Nature GK12 teachers John Nies, Becky Bowers, and Karla Sommer was highlighted at the 2014 Ecological Society of America Meeting in Sacramento California!

After hearing the presentation of Becky Bowers and Karla Sommer’s (4th grade teachers at Mill Creek Elementary) research on below ground fungal mutualists, several audience members commented to co-author and former GK12 Scientist Alice Tipton that they were now motivated to include teachers in their own research programs.

John Nies, 5th grade teacher at Grant Elementary, shared his research on the impact that ShowMe Nature GK12 and BGREEN programs have had on science learning for his students in a Poster Session on K-12 Science Education and Outreach. His poster drew crowds of scientists and educators intrigued by his findings of increases in student performance after involvement in the two outreach programs. John also helped out with an ecological study of flowering times in Colorado Rocky Mountain alpine meadows that was featured in Candace Galen and James’ Franklin’s talk on climate change. Spending a month helping out his GK-12 scientist collaborator, James Franklin, John showed that meadows where plants ceased flowering more rapidly dry out quickly in the summer.

To round out the GK-12 presentations, Program Postdoctoral Fellow Nicole Miller-Struttmann, described her research on recent changes in alpine bumble bee communities. Ecological partnerships like the one between bumble bees and wildflowers, are the model for GK-12 collaboration, so it is fitting that Nicole is studying their fate in a warming world. Overall, the ShowMe Nature crew had a great showing at the ESA meeting thanks to the fabulous work of our GK12 teachers and MU Scientist partners.

Research Presentations featuring ShowMe Nature GK12 teachers

  • From krummholz to classroom: supporting student success with university, community and public school partnerships
  • Living on the edge: environmental and genetic influences on plant growth and mycorrhizal root colonization in dolomite glades
  • Impacts of a warmer drier world on bumblebee food resources: The view from the top

The 2014 ShowMe Nature GK12 Symposium Celebrates Science Excellence!

Congratulations to all involved in the third annual ShowMe Nature GK12 Research Symposium held on April 26 in collaboration with the BGreen environmental literacy program!

One hundred and twenty-seven students shared posters based on their mini-grant funded research projects with proud family members, teachers, graduate fellows, undergraduate interns and MU faculty.

The research conducted by these talented young scientists included modeling the spread of disease at Paxton Keeley Elementary, discovering the life history of butterflies at New Haven Elementary, creating an aquaponics system at Ridgeway Elementary, observing where different kinds of microbes live at Midway Heights Elementary, documenting biodiversity at Rock Bridge Elementary, and much more! Midway students discovered that most bacteria are helpful and even found a new one lurking in the schoolyard. Lee students became environmental engineers, designing and constructing Hugelkulturs (H-K’s)—an ancient form of permaculture. They found that miniature H-K’s kept their houseplants alive when the heat went off in their trailer classroom on the coldest night of the year. In addition to the posters, students engaged the audience in their research through QR codes that linked to student-designed science webpages, examples of their study organisms (including butterflies, plants, and microbes), 3-D models of their experiments, and activities that challenged the audience to be the scientist!!

The Symposium was followed by a keynote presentation given by Dr. Doug Ladd, a renowned conservation biologist and Director of Conservation for the Missouri Nature Conservancy. It was a full morning of celebrating the 2013-14 year of science learning and discovery in our GK12 and BGreen classrooms!

If you are interested in exploring student research projects in more detail, check them out at the Virtual Research Symposium.

ShowMe Nature Science Safari Series Spring 2014

In February, sixty 4th and 5th graders joined the ShowMe Nature GK-12 program for the last of our GK-12 Science Safari research immersion series.

Students explored the ways that animals use tools to collect food, modeled human impacts on watersheds, extracted DNA from plants, mapped an archeological discovery, and so much more! Twenty faculty and graduate students joined the students for lunch and, during 10 minute activities, immersed the students in their diverse research interests, including neuroscience, entomology, plant biology and anthropology. Students were inspired to see themselves as scientists, fellows exhibited remarkable teaching through authentic research experiences, and faculty and graduate students shared their contagious enthusiasm for their science.

Congratulations to all involved for contributing to the great success of these and all past Science Safari events!

ShowMe Nature Science Safari Series September 2013

On September 30th, thirty 4th and 5th graders joined the ShowMe Nature GK-12 program for a day of science immersion!

Students created models to explore how humans interact with their environment to impact flooding, used biological indicators to determine the health of two streams in the Columbia area, investigated and mapped an archeological discovery, and examined the special features of plants that allow them to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen from their leaves. Faculty and graduate students joined the students for lunch and shared their research through activities that inspired students to see themselves as botanists, entomologists, and conservation biologists. Students engaged in scientific practices used by researchers from diverse fields, and fellows explored their role as educators and scientists.

Congratulations to all involved for creating a successful day of science discovery!

To learn more, read the article in the Columbia Missourian about the day’s events.

The 2013 Science Camp: Authentic Research Experiences in Action

On August 2nd, the ShowMe Nature GK-12 program welcomed 30 4th, 5th, and 6th graders for a day of science immersion at MU.

Fellows, in collaboration with their co-mentoring teachers, engaged students in their research through authentic science activities aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Students invoked the scientific practices used by GK-12 Fellows in their own research to assist in a forensic investigation using bone fragments, to catalogue and map an archeological discovery, and to identify optimal squirrel habitat on MU’s campus. They designed an experiment to test if plants “breath” and tested the effectiveness of tools that are used by animals to gather food.

Students were exposed to the scientific process, and the fellow-teacher teams collaborated on their first learning experience of the year. It was an excellent jump start to the third year of the ShowMe Nature GK-12 Program!

Columbia Public Schools Teachers Reflect on Growing Poverty Rate

GK-12 mentor shares empathy for his students.  Muhammad Bilal, Fourth Grade Teacher at Benton Elementary, the Columbia Public School Districts new STEM magnet school reflects on challenges of living in poverty for students in his classroom.  Benton is a GK-12 partner school, where 91% of students live in poverty.  Bilal, mentor to GK-12 Fellow, Clayton Coffman, describes how empathy and high expectations help him motivate his students.

Read more in the Columbia Missourian.

2013 CPS Science Heros Deanna Lankford & Anna Waldron


Anna Waldron

Deanna Lankdford and Anna Waldron have provided many incredible science opportunities to our students. The largest opportunity of the year was the first ever CPS/MU Science Sleuth event. This event marked a huge event where over 1,000 flooded Jessie Hall and several other buildings at MU to have fun with over 30 wild science displays. Their help in secruing facilties, booths, and volunteers was essential to this high impact collaboration.


Deanna Lankford

In addition to this event, the MU Science Outreach office has organized events such as the Life Sciences Day for our high schoolers, the Science Olympiad State Tournament, Ask the Scientist Column, field trips for CPS students, Science Clubs in our schools, and professional development for our teachers.

Their enthusiasm and dedication has provided CPS students with many rich science experiences and we are very thankful for their committement to K-12 science education.

Read more: Division of Biological Sciences News

The 2013 ShowMe Nature GK12 Symposium was a Resounding Success!

The second annual ShowMe Nature GK12 Research Symposium was held at the Bond Life Sciences Center on April 27 in collaboration with MU’s Saturday Morning Science Series and our new EPA funded environmental literacy program, 2BGreen.

One hundred and fifty students shared posters based on their mini-grant funded research projects with proud family members, teachers, graduate fellows and MU faculty. All were impressed by the quality of the research conducted by these talented young scientists!

Projects included forecasting the weather at Midway Heights Elementary, creating renewable energy at Grant Elementary, documenting biodiversity at Mill Creek Elementary, learning where different kinds of microbes live at Shepard Boulevard Elementary, installing a lunchroom waste composting system to help grow healthy food at Blue Ridge Elementary, observing craters on the moon and spots on the sun through the telescope at Derby Ridge Elementary, and more!

The Symposium was followed by a keynote presentation given by Dr. Jeri Janowsky, a renowned neuroscientist and Executive Director of Saturday Academy in Portland, Oregon. It was a full morning of celebrating the 2012-13 year of science learning and discovery in our GK12 and 2BGreen classrooms.

Congratulations to all involved!!!

If you are interested in exploring student research projects in more detail, check them out at the Virtual Research Symposium.


ShowMe Nature Science Safari Series 2013

Forty students from Mill Creek, Blue Ridge and Shepard Elementary Schools had a terrific day of science at the University of Missouri on March 1, 2013. It was a triumphant finale for the ShowMe Nature Science Safari series this year.

Students were engaged, respectful and thoughtful as they helped graduate student scientists discern the nature of a plant-fungal relationship, identify frogs based on their call structure and map their distributions, and isolate DNA from strawberries and bananas. They spent six hours exploring, collaborating, and working to solve problems posed by graduate student scientists in the GK12 program.

Prescriptive science lessons were jettisoned and completely replaced with research modeled purposeful inquiry. As adult chaperones commented, Fellows exemplified the kinds of teachers any parent would want to have in their child’s classroom.