Symbiosis in the Soil Project
In this project, students will assume the role of citizen scientists—helping researchers answer questions about how dandelions acquire beneficial symbiotic microbes from different soil types. Students will collect and transplant dandelions, conduct experiments on dandelion growth and microbe growth, and then submit data to scientists at the Genomics and Microbiology Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The researchers will use these data to supplement DNA and RNA sequencing efforts. Students will receive results from the genetic analyses from a limited set of classrooms whose dandelions had previously been sequenced. By maintaining a connection with researchers, students will have an active, hands-on role in current science. Besides aiding scientists with research, students will also create their own inquiries.
Symbiosis in the Soil has curriculum alignments for grades 6-8. The introductory lesson, Diggin’ Dandelions, is a prerequisite for other lessons. This activity should take place in a single day to make sure dandelions will remain viable. Students will grow the dandelions for one month in the classroom, collecting data weekly. For the time frame of other lessons, refer to the individual lesson plans.