NSTA Chicago Fast Plants Booth Resources

NSTA Chicago Fast Plants booth

NSTA Chicago Fast Plants booth was no exception–our conference booth is always packed with living Fast Plants and related resources. If you visited our booth in Chicago, recently (2022), you likely met plant researcher and Brassica specialist, Dan Lauffer. In the booth, we featured the following and include related resources in this post:

  • Life cycle: Living examples of key stages in the Fast Plants life cycle. 
  • Genetics, inheritance, and selection: Seedling and flowering stages of the primary Fast Plants genetic varieties and seedlings expressing polycotyledony used in selection experiments.
  • Effects from limiting various environmental variables: Examples of observable differences among small Fast Plants populations grown under sample environmental stressors.
  • Growing systems: A variety of do-it-yourself and kit-available growing systems.
  • Lighting systems: Several lighting options for growing Fast Plants.

Life cycle displays

Showcasing plants that illustrate the Fast Plants life cycle explains why they’re called “fast!” and leads to good conversations about growing healthy Fast Plants. The following are links to resources helpful for teaching throughout the Fast Plants life cycle.

  • Comprehensive set of blog posts about the primary physical, biological, and chemical environmental factors that affect Fast Plants throughout their life cycle.

Genetics and inheritance displays

Many options for teaching hands-on genetics with Fast Plants evolved over the 35+ years that Fast Plants have been in classrooms. In our NSTA booth, we show both seedlings germinated in Petri dishes and genetic stocks growing in soil-less potting mix.

Seedlings just 3-5 days old can be scored for evidence of either monohybrid and dihybrid Mendelian inheritance patterns. Alternatively, students can grow Fast Plants in soil, inter-mate the F1 generation, then observe firsthand the results in the F2 generation.

The following are selected resources that support teaching genetics with Fast Plants:
  • Fast Plants YouTube video explaining the phenotypes, genotypes, and procedures for teaching Mendelian Genetics with the Fast Plants seed disks.
  • Fast Plants YouTube video that concisely explains the phenotypes and genotypes involved in teaching Mendelian Genetics with the Fast Plants Purple Stem crossed with Non Purple Stem seed stocks.
Polycot seed stock for teaching variation and selection

Polycots are a fantastic model for teaching about the relationships between variation and natural (or human-driven) selection. Using Polycots, students can selectively breed those Fast Plants expressing polycotyledony (three or more cotyledons, or seed leaves) and increase polycot frequency in future generations. Resources related to teaching with Polycots include:

Gen 1 polycots 5-days Petri dish
  • Polycots blog post with Open Source lesson for teaching selection with Polycots and other resources.

Effects from limiting a variety of  environmental variables

We share living samples of Fast Plants grown in experimental environmental conditions as examples for you to build upon with your students. The following two resources are samples of what our Program has to offer in support of teaching ecological, environmental, and agricultural sciences with Fast Plants:

Growing Systems for Fast Plants

Designing simple hydroponic growing systems for Fast Plants is a great example of how engineering and scientific practices complement each other. Information about recommended systems is available on our website’s Preparation Page and on our YouTube channel:

Fast Plants deli growing systen

Lighting Systems for Fast Plants

Check out our blog post on LED grow lights to learn about recommended lighting for Fast Plants and phone apps that make it possible to measure light output available for photosynthesis. This post includes complete plans (including a shopping list) for building your own Fast Plants lighting system with PVC and GE LED grow lights.

grow lights PVC stand no plants

We know the NSTA Chicago Fast Plants booth is packed with information. Plus, it’s situated in a busy exhibit hall amongst a flurry of NSTA sessions. So, we hope this post can provide follow-up information to reference after returning from the conference. In addition, we are just an email away for one-on-one advice whenever needed (info@fastplants.org).

If you were able to visit our booth at NSTA, we thank you for making the time to do so! If you weren’t able to travel to NSTA or find time to visit us in the exhibit hall, we’ll hope to see you at another conference, soon. We’ll be attending both the NABT Professional Development Conference in Indianapolis and CAST in Dallas.