University of Minnesota

Milkweed Courses Available at St. Olaf

Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 11:52 am in Educational Opportunities

Attention Minnesota Teachers,

We are pleased to share an opportunity for two free workshops for teachers this summer at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.  Both offer stipends for participation.

Got Milkweed? Collecting Data about Milkweed to Inform Our Response to the Monarch Population Decline. August 2-3, 2016

Monarch caterpillars only eat one kind of plant--milkweed. As monarch butterfly populations are declining and more people are planting milkweed,what is important to understand about this food source? This workshop introduces participants to a new distributed research project designed to help students understand evolution and ecology through inquiry about milkweed plants while simultaneously gathering data to answer important scientific questions, such as: “What should we do to slow the decline of the monarch butterfly populations?” and  “Does the origin of milkweed seeds affect their growth?”

Participating schools will plant milkweed seeds from local and non-local populations and gather data on milkweed growth annually in spring and fall to determine whether milkweed populations are locally adapted, meaning it would be beneficial to plant locally sourced milkweed genotypes, or whether there are certain superior milkweed genotypes that perform better in all locations.  Learning opportunities align well with Life Science Next Generation Science Standards at both middle and high school levels. The project requires a one-time collection of common milkweed seeds from a naturally occurring (not planted) local population, space in which to plant about 16 milkweed plants, and a commitment to work with students annually to follow specific protocols for data collection in the spring and fall for multiple years. $200 stipend for participation.  For more information about the experiment, visit this link.

Tackling Challenges in Middle School Science.  August 3-5, 2016

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your teaching?  Come together with other middle school teachers to share ideas and workshop a lesson or series of lessons that you’d like to improve.  Learn about reading and data analysis strategies to incorporate into your teaching, and get new ideas from disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists and researchers.  Spend time integrating what you have learned into your plans for the future. $300 stipend for participation.


Applications for one or both workshops are invited, and groups of teachers from the same school or district are encouraged to apply.  Teachers who participate in both workshops will receive a maximum $400 stipend.  Additional funds are available to support travel and lodging for teachers who live more than 50 miles from St. Olaf College, to support purchase of supplies necessary to implement school-based projects, and for participation in follow up activities during the school year.

Apply now:  Got Milkweed ApplicationTackling Challenges Application

For more information: Please visit this link for more information.  If you have any questions about the workshops, please contact Emily Mohl at

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