Lab Explorations 101 partners with Mizzou, presents research through poster session

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Sophie Whyte

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After a nearly three-month long experiment, the Columbia Area Career Center’s Lab Explorations 101 class presented their findings Wednesday, May 15. The students partnered with the University of Missouri to test the effect of different substances on natural and mutated Arabidopsis Thaliana plants.

“We were given these mutant plants by Dr. Gassmann and also these regular type seeds,” sophomore Jack Rentschler said. “Pretty much what we did was treat them with a solution that we hypothesized could have an interesting effect on the plants.”

Rentschler’s group used a 0.25 percent solution of lithium chloride, a chemical used in the past as a salt substitute until it was discovered to have a negative effect in reproduction. All of his plant specimens died, but to him the experiment was a success because of the knowledge gained.

“All our plants died,” Rentschler said. “ the mutant type plants survived longer. That showed the mutation had some resilience.”

Three other groups in the Lab Explorations 101 class presented their research in the poster session to other Career Center students, and their teacher Christine Roberson noted the longevity of the project and time put in by students to get to this point.

“They have been working on these solidly since February,” Roberson said. “We’ve done other things in between, but has always been in the background.”

Students chose a substance they believed would have an interesting effect on the plants’ development and spent time in during the school day and even during free time to conduct complex experiments. Rentschler clocked in hours during his Advisory to tend to the plants.

“It’s something that takes a lot of time and attention to detail,” Rentschler said. “I got a lot of my work done in my . ’s group came in for four hours on a Saturday.”

The program hopes to inspire students to pursue careers in plant sciences and give them real world experience. Patel said that aside from being an extensive class assignment, the experiment has given her insight on how research studies operate.

“I want to become a heart surgeon, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to me,” Patel said. “It helps us explore and get more involved in the project you don’t know what the result results will be.”

The expo marks the sixth year of partnering with the university and the culmination of nearly an entire semester of work. Roberson said that each year students expand their knowledge of the scientific process through this long-term lab, and that it improves their understanding of other classroom activities.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a research partner at Mizzou for six years, I think one of the things really tend to grow in… understanding things like graphing aren’t just a chore that you have to do in science class,” Roberson said. “It can actually inform you about the experimental results that you’re seeing. the value of communicating with others within the scientific community, the writing skills, and most importantly, I think, their observation skills. Learning to stop and look very, very carefully.”

Various classes at the Career Center came to see the presentations, even if their own class wasn’t science related. The idea was to give students from all backgrounds insight into science and its application in the real world. Plant research is particularly neglected in science, so not many people are familiar with the uses of this research.

“I have learned that the particular plant they are using is the plant that they use to test for all other plants, and they use lab rats to test for humans,” sophomore Juan Chacon, from Career Center class Firefighting and EMT Basics, said. “We don’t usually look at plants… knowledge is power.”
By Sophie Whyte and Jilly Dos Santos