Special Resource Collections

Recommended Fast Plants teaching and learning resources for elementary grade level learners.
Collection of recommended Fast Plants teaching and learning resources for middle school grade level learners.
Collection of recommended Fast Plants teaching and learning resources for high school level learners.
Collection of recommended resources and investigations for use with AP® and college level teaching and learning.
Resources with everything you need to know about growing Fast Plants.
Collection of resources tied to understanding the super-fast Fast Plants life cycle (14 days to flower under ideal growing conditions!) and life cycles more generally.
Collection of resources and lessons valuable for designing, conducting, and analyzing results from investigations into genetics and selection (natural and human-directed) with Fast Plants.

New rapid-cycling plant breeding project


Plant breeders making selections

Did you know that beyond Fast Plants (rapid-cycling Brassica rapa) there are rapid-cycling varieties of other Brassica species? Enter the fascinating world of Brassica oleracea!

Bred at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by Professor Paul Williams, rapid-cycling Brassica oleracea were initially developed for Brassica disease resistance research. While they’ve played important roles in research, their educational potential has yet to be fully explored.

Our mission? To refine a classroom-friendly population of rapid-cycling Brassica oleracea. What's the most exciting part of this project? This line of Brassicas may have the potential to demonstrate genetic linkage, a concept not easily taught with Wisconsin Fast Plants!

Genetic linkage, a phenomenon where neighboring genes on a chromosome tend to be inherited together, challenges Gregor Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment (which claims genes are inherited independently). Importantly, genetic linkage is an exception to Mendel’s law.

While Wisconsin Fast Plants are terrific for teaching Mendelian inheritance, we have yet to discover any easily observable, linked traits in Fast Plants. Yet...

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Growing our understandings about Brassica origins


Scientists build on the work of the Father of Fast Plants, Paul Williams, and other Brassica researchers.

Using evidence from a wide variety of biological, physical, and cultural sources, ethnobotanists from UW-Madison are giving us new insights into the origins and worldwide diversity of Brassicas. Eve Emshwiller and her former graduate student Alex McAlvay (now a botanist at New York Botanical Gardens) led this research, which was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Our Wisconsin Fast Plants Program team then worked with Alex McAlvay to update one of our popular teaching resources from the early 1990s, called Around the World with Brassicas, creating a new set of resources that includes:

  • Lesson Plans A complete set of lesson plans and resources for an inquiry that includes a selection experiment with Fast Plants and a strong research component. These lessons were developed with both the BSCS 5E and Gather, Reason, Communicate instructional models and to investigate and explain the variation we see in Brassicas. In addition, these lessons are intentionally designed to support culturally responsive teaching.
  • 10-minute video for use with students This ...

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