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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Wandersee, James H. [1], Clary, Renee M. [2].

A Study of World Newspaper Coverage of Two 21st-Century Global Seed Banks and the Erroneous Scientific Ideas Fostered by the Popular Press’ Misnomer: Doomsday Vault .

Norway’s marvelous, arctic Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in 2008. It can conserve 4.5 million food crop seed samples. Although it is the latest global seed bank to capture the world’s attention, Norway’s is not open to visitors; England’s is. At the seed bank operated by Royal Botanic Gardens-Kew (2000), we witnessed one of the most impressive plant conservation projects ever conceived—complete with well-designed interpretive seed science exhibits. Here, with seed processing and research laboratories visible through glass walls, visitors are taught how a modern seed bank works and why it is important to preserve plant germplasm for future generations. From that and our decade-long world newspaper content analysis of news stories about these two new seed banks (plus news writers’ misconceptions), we concluded that classroom study of today’s global seed banks and the establishment of a classroom seed bank project are enticing, and would allow specific, important biological concepts endorsed by the National Science Education Standards (1996) to be demonstrated and learned. Finally, we found that the world press’ sensationalist label “Doomsday Vault” had not only grabbed our students' attention and stimulated interest in seed banks, but had also implanted four erroneous scientific ideas.

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1 - Louisiana State University, Dept. of Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice, Ph.D. Studies in Biology Education, 223 Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA
2 - Mississippi State University, Dept. of Geosciences, 301-B Hilbun Hall, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762, USA

seed bank 
content analysis
National Science Education Standards
Doomsday Vault
seed science exhibits
world newspapers
plant germplasm.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Session: 36
Location: Superior A/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 8:15 AM
Number: 36002
Abstract ID:85