PlantLab Student Scientists

Calling all teachers of Grades 6–8!
Now accepting applications for NEW 2020–2021 program!

    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


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 Benefit in the Grades 6–8 Pilot Program?

  • Free downloadable curriculum | Full curriculum, in a downloadable format, will be provided for all classes piloting PlantLab Student Scientists units with students.
  • Stipends for participating teachers | Teachers can earn up to $200 for each unit piloted with students, for a maximum of $600. Stipends are earned by attending the virtual orientation session, participating in pre/post unit workshops, and submitting evaluation data.
  • Tools, equipment, and support provided | For in-person learners, the Garden team will provide all the supplies needed for student investigations and learning experiences.
  • Virtual professional development and networking | For educators with students who are wholly virtual, the Garden will offer virtual instruction and demonstration of lessons. Professional development workshops will help participants delve into their chosen unit(s), learn current research and best practices, make connections to standards, and develop strategies for making the most of their school community as one ginormous outdoor learning lab. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to form connections with field professionals as well as fellow 6th–8th grade educators throughout the region.
  • Invitations to special events | All participants, including teachers, students, families, administrators, and staff who comprise the participant school’s immediate community, will be invited to attend the Missouri Botanical Garden’s annual Family Night for Partner Schools held in 2021. This same event will feature the PlantLab Student Showcase, a culminating exhibit of student projects inspired by the program (TBD in accordance with local government and Missouri Botanical Garden policies and recommendations).


What Is Required of Participating Teachers?

  1. Must attend one (1) program orientation session in August 2020.
  2. During the 2020–2021 school year, participants must pilot one (1) or more of two new cross-curricular units with students, comprising 8–10 sessions each. Unit options: Investigation and Applications and Sustainability and Services. Each unit aligns with Next Generation Science Standards and Missouri Learning Standards. All units are available in both a virtual lesson format and for in person learning. In person learning equipment, supplies, and resources will be provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden.
    1. Investigation and Applications (Available Fall 2020) Faced with 21st-century issues, science and engineering disciplines are increasingly turning to nature for solutions. By coupling investigations in plant science with the engineering cycle, this STEM·focused class exposes students to methods of applying data and evidence from observations of nature to produce enriching policy actions and/or technical solutions to daunting challenges.
    2. Sustainability and Services (Available Spring 2021) The Garden’s stated mission is to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life. The fields of ecology and ethnobotany offer ideal opportunities for students to explore the stewardship, management, and restoration of natural resources that sustain our quality of life. In this class we will explore case studies of indigenous management techniques to inform restoration of natural services.
  3. Meet with Garden educators for one virtual workshop to receive in-depth training on chosen unit and activities within. Allow Garden educators to help with and/or observe up to two lessons during the unit.
  4. In accordance with local government, school district and Missouri Botanical Garden policies and recommendations schedule a PlantLab field experience at the Missouri Botanical Garden for students, including booking dates and arranging transportation. All program and transportation fees will be covered by the Garden.
  5. Complete and submit program-related evaluation designed for both teachers and students.


How to Apply

Who may participate?
For the 2020–2021 school year, eligible participants include public, private and charter-school teachers serving students in grades 6–8 at local St. Louis-area schools.

To apply:
Visit to complete the online application. Program applications are accepted on a continuing basis for the 2020–2021 school year. Call the Missouri Botanical Garden School Programs office at (314) 577-5185 if you have questions or would like additional information.

Online application

Important Info and Dates

Virtual Program Orientation Sessions via Zoom:

Investigation and Applications
September 19, 2020; 2–3 p.m.

Sustainability and Services
January 23, 2021; 2–3 p.m.

Program applications are accepted on a continuing basis.

*Attendance at the virtual orientation session is required to be eligible.
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.

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 contact Matthew Magoc at (314) 577-5185.

  • 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.
    Go to download
    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
    Go to download
  • 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.
    Go to download