Growing Knowledge, Cultivating Curiosity: Empowering Scientists of Tomorrow with Planting Science
- Published on Monday, 02 October 2023 13:49
PlantingScience, Hubzero and Science Gateways provide means for mentors to pair with middle and high school students and a space to communicate and work together.
The PlantingScience platform brings together middle and high school student teams investigating plant biology-related concepts, allowing collaboration, discussion, and reflection with volunteer scientists, teacher mentors, and even their peers.
PlantingScience has created a community and learning place that supports teachers and their students, challenging them to become scientific thinkers and a part of practical science. With nationally recognized societies and collaborators' support, teachers prepare students to innovate solutions through scientific inquiry, reasoning, and critical thinking as they take on personalized and challenging research projects. It's a portal with many open and free educational resources to foster curiosity, understanding, literacy, and interest in real-world science.
Scientists can volunteer to mentor and share their passion with young scientists in middle and high school. However, there needed an online mentoring pairing system where scientists could be assigned to student groups. Additionally, the system needed to provide space for both the scientists and students to communicate and work towards project goals.
PlantingScience partnered with Hubzero to utilize the Hubzero Content Management System (CMS) to provide avenues for students and scientists to connect. Through this partnership, the PlantingScience science gateway has been customized to fit the unique protocol for this community as students are coming from all grades, K-12, and advanced processes needed to be followed to provide a good on-boarding experience for the students and their mentors.
At the beginning of 2023, the Hubzero team further customized PlantingScience to expand upon:
- Enhancing email communications from PlantingScience to scientists
- Improved design to the science gateway’s collaboration area, Groups, to help the management of members
- Enhancing notifications to Group administrators to help with decision making
- Added a custom reports portal for group invitations to scientists
From this planned work, Ka (Jesse) Woo, a full-stack developer with the Hubzero team, worked closely with the PlantingScience team to enhance the functionality on the science gateway.
Jesse worked on enhancements to the Group informational pages, the email templates, and the logical mechanism related to the management of invitations to scientists were enhanced to bring about a better user experience. In addition, a new invitation data customized report page was created for administrators to help narrow and segment data to find gaps and help with decision-making.
Design adjustments were also made to the Group members gallery, where an “All” members tab was created to meet the needs of managers, where it showed active members plus pending invites. Each member card was enhanced with the addition of the assigned project team, so administrators can easily scan the member list to see who lacked a project link. The existing “Invitees” tab cards were improved to help managers efficiently identify how many pending invitations to scientists may need to be replaced with new invitees.
Impact to the PlantingScience Community
As a result of the enhancements to PlantingScience, the invitational process for scientists has become more streamlined and less cumbersome for the invited scientists and managers of these spaces. Additionally, the managers of PlantingScience are able to send effective email and alert notifications to specific programs. Group pages were given a face lift to make information more accessible, and many more design tweaks that are more instinctive and engaging. Other changes brought clarity to the group member gallery, and helped administrators managing scientist volunteers of project teams.
Overall, the enhancements for the PlantingScience science gateway were a huge win for the PlantingScience team. These improvements were visible during the PlantingScience 2023 summer conference, as the PlantingScience team was able to use the improved communication mechanisms to effectively match scientists to the appropriate groups. The PlantingScience team was pleased with how their vision became a reality within a tight time frame.
As the lead developer for this engagement, Jesse Woo shared great satisfaction with the outcomes. “Overall, I’m pleased with the work that I’ve gotten to do for PlantingScience, knowing how my development efforts have helped make administration of the site much more efficient and pleasant. Knowing that my work gets to connect scientists with the students is a huge blessing, because I know that students can learn much from those that are experienced, those that have knowledge and wisdom.” Jesse sees that through PlantingScience, scientists and student collaborations will foster the students’ excitement for science, as they are the future of scientific innovation and research. Jesse goes on to share, “Again, I’m thankful that I got a chance to work with PlantingScience and be part of this development team that will foster those crucial scientists-student collaborations.”
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