iTAG Barley STEM training enables hands-on science for high-school students: iTAG Barley (Inheritance of Traits and Genes), a grade 7-12 STEM outreach program, helps students to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Using the diverse Oregon Wolfe Barley population as the model, teacher iTAG training enables their students to learn concepts in plant development, phenotypic diversity, genetics, and genomics. iTAG Barley is available with teacher and student versions in PDF or digital textbook format [iTAG for iPad (McGhee et al. 2016a, McGhee et al. 2016b)], and includes NSF-funded thermal cyclers, microcentrifuges, gel boxes, transilluminators, pipetteman, seed, and reagents. Collectively, 14 RETs and 26 summer workshop teachers from around the state of Iowa and Tuskegee, AL have implemented iTAG Barley in 186 classrooms from 2010-2018, impacting 4,516 students, including ~1,500 underrepresented students from urban and rural communities.

Fig A illustrates the Informative & Spectacular Subset (ISS) of the Oregon Wolfe barley population (OWB) (Cistue et al. 2011). These doubled haploid lines originate from a wide cross and have dramatic phenotypes, making it ideal for teaching phenotypic diversity, genetics, and genomics. Students observe plants for several traits, including two-row vs. six-row seed heads (encoded by Vrs, a domestication trait) and hooded vs. non-hooded (encoded by BKn3 - a homoeotic mutation where another spikelet replaces the awn). We engage with RETs and their students to grow plants, isolate DNA, perform PCR of the Vrs/BKn3 genes, and run gels. Inquiry-based activities have been designed to link the genes with biological phenotypes. iTAG Barley is aligned to the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and is adaptable to any state science education standards.

Fig A

iTAG for iPAD

McGhee, L, N Hayes, R Schuck, L Maffin, G Hall, T Hubbard, E Whigham, G Fuerst, and RP Wise*. 2016. iTAG Barley: A grade 7-12 curriculum to explore inheritance of traits and genes using Oregon Wolfe barley (version 6). Digital iBook for iPAD.

Wise, R. 2017. iTAG Barley STEM training advances hands-on science for secondary-school students. Midwest Area Diversity and Equal Opportunity Medley: December 2017. PDF

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