Learning at School

PlantLab Student Scientists logo

  • Experience the extraordinary world of plants and the natural world in your own school campus and community
  • Practice STEM skills that can tackle real-world environmental challenges
  • Connect with field professionals in plant science, horticulture, conservation, education, and sustainability
  • Help students develop stronger self-identities as critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers
  • Spark interest in careers that can lead to a more sustainable future
  • Our national standard aligned curricular resources are developed for students in grades 3–5 and 6–8. Curriculums can be used to support student learning at school or at home.


About the Program

Everyone is a scientist.

This simple but powerful concept is at the core of a new program taking root at Missouri Botanical Garden—PlantLab Student Scientists: Growing the Future. As a world-renowned center for plant science and conservation, the Garden is in a unique position to forge relationships between students and the increasingly crucial fields of plant science, horticulture, ecological restoration, and sustainability.

Through immersive lab experiences, interactions with plant science professionals, and compelling curriculum inspired by real-world challenges, both students and teachers with grow stronger as scientists. Participants will be able to collect and use data and evidence to inform decisions, solve problems, and maybe even save the world. Let’s do this, St. Louis!





How Does a School Get Started using PlantLab Student Scientists?


  • Free downloadable curriculum | Full curriculum, in a downloadable format, is provided to all educators at no cost.
  • Tools, equipment, and support provided | For in-person and virtual learners, Missouri Botanical Garden instructors will provide virtual engagement support and make available via loan the supplies needed for student investigations and learning experiences.
  • Professional development and networking | Professional development workshops for educators help participants delve into their chosen curriculum, learn current research and best practices, make connections to national and state standards and develop strategies for making the most of their school community as one enormous outdoor learning lab. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to form connections with field professionals as well as other educators throughout the region. Professional development training can be delivered in a virtual or in-person format.



Important Info and Dates

Virtual or in-person trainings can be scheduled for grade level teams or schools throughout the year

Attendance at an orientation session is not required to utilize the PlantLab Student Scientists curriculums.

Please email schoolprograms@mobot.org if you have questions or would like additional information.



PlantLab Student Scientists
Grades 3–5 Curriculum

The PlantLab Student Scientists grades 3–5 curriculum, which was piloted with St. Louis City schools in 2019–2020, is now available to all educators in a downloadable format.

Bring the Plantlab Student Scientists curriculum to your school or home to support learners:

These cross-curricular units include 8–10 lessons covering Botany and Biodiversity, Plants and People and Ecology and Engineering. All curricular units align with Next Generation Science Standards and Missouri Learning Standards. Materials and tool kits are available for rent for in-person learning. To inquire about material availability, please email schoolprograms@mobot.org.

  • Introduction and Glossary
    Download Introduction and Glossary  
  • Botany and Biodiversity
    Carl Linneaus once said, “If the names are unknown, knowledge…also perishes.” Since 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden has served as a world leader in the fundamental science of discovering, classifying, and naming plant species from all around the world. This hands-on session will provide students with a taste of the real-world work our researchers do, from collection and classification to identification and nomenclature.
    Download Botany and Biodiversity Unit
    Go to Sample Virtual Session – Herbariums (YouTube video)
  • Plants and People
    An understanding of the interconnectedness of the natural world is vital if we are going to tackle big challenges like climate change and conservation. In this class, students will explore the interdependence between flowering plants and their pollinators, underscoring how this simple relationship affects not just the organisms involved, but the ecology of their local habitats and human quality of life
    Download Plants and People Unit
    Go to Sample Virtual Session – Plant discussion during Halloween (YouTube video)
  • Ecology and Engineering
    Plants provide humankind with our most crucial resources: food, medicines, fiber, building materials, and a range of other economically valuable products and essential services. This hands-on program gives students an opportunity to explore the traditional uses of plants as well as glimpse some of the ways in which plants can be used in the future to address environmental and economic concerns.
    Download Ecology and Engineering Unit



PlantLab Student Scientists
Grades 6–8 Curriculum

A suite of progressive lessons aligned to MLS and NGSS standards that comprises of 5–8 weeks of instruction, appropriate to learners in grades 6–8. Unit lessons provide an introduction to real-world citizen science initiatives that align with the unit’s theme and provide students an opportunity to participate in authentic data collection and research. At the conclusion of each unit, a culminating inquiry-driven culminating project provides students with an on-school campus opportunity to be a scientist and carry out an investigation of their choosing using the STEM skills and practices introduced in the lessons. 

  • Investigation and Applications
    The "Investigation and Application 2024" curriculum, designed for middle school students, provides an immersive educational journey into plant science. It emphasizes practical applications and hands-on data collection, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The curriculum aims to bridge theoretical knowledge with real-world applications, inspiring future careers in STEM fields, particularly plant science and conservation. Key components include biodiversity conservation, integration of the engineering cycle, data collection and interpretation, and application to global challenges. This unit is ideal for educators and students seeking to connect classroom learning to real-world scientific work, enhancing skills like critical thinking and fostering a passion for science.
    Download Investigation and Applications Unit
  • Sustainability and Services
    The "Sustainability and Services" curriculum is designed for middle school students, focusing on the importance of plants in ecosystems and human life. It includes interactive lessons on plant life cycles, the services provided by ecosystems, the critical role of plants in human survival, and sustainable practices. The curriculum aims to develop students' understanding of environmental stewardship and their ability to think critically about sustainability issues. Engaging and informative, it integrates science with practical knowledge, encouraging students to become responsible and informed citizens.
    Download Sustainability and Services Unit
  • Sustainability and Services – BioDiverse City Simulation
    The "BioDiverse City" simulation is an interactive game designed for middle school students. It simulates the experience of urban neighborhood development over a ten-year period. Players work as part of neighborhood teams to enhance their communities using granted funds, focusing on sustainability and urban biodiversity. The game involves strategic planning, cooperation, and resource management. Key components include different types of properties, enhancement tokens, and a currency system that equates money with community labor hours. Players face challenges and make decisions to improve their neighborhoods, balancing immediate needs with long-term sustainability.
    BioDiverse City Gameplay Guide
    BioDiverse City Game Board
    BioDiverse City Neighborhood Handbook