Scientist donates time to teach seventh-graders genetics

Michael Skinner, left, Andy Trill and Nick Ryan try to figure the growth average as Lewis and Clark Middle School seventh-grade students measure the height and count leaves on their plants. As a science experiment, the group planted multiple seeds and marked them and have spent the past few weeks watching them.

Michael Skinner, left, Andy Trill and Nick Ryan try to figure the growth average as Lewis and Clark Middle School seventh-grade students measure the height and count leaves on their plants. As a science experiment, the group planted multiple seeds and marked them and have spent the past few weeks watching them. Photo by Julie Smith.

Seventh-grade student Ruby Waller leaned over the six-pack of green bok choy plants, and studiously inspected their spindly stems and yellow blossoms.

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Volunteer teacher Patrick Edger talks to Lewis and Clark Middle School seventh-grade students during an afternoon science class.

“Our tallest one is this one,” she said, pointing to one that had collapsed like a vine. “It’s 19 centimeters.”

Wallers was talking to Patrick Edger, a post doctoral fellow at the University of California-Berkeley. The scientist responded with mock surprise, but genuine enthusiasm, at the revelation. “Wow! It really is!” he replied.

With financial help from the National Science Foundation, Edger is donating his time to teach the theory of Mendelian inheritance, based on Austrian scientist’s Gregor Mendel’s work, to four sections of seventh-graders at Jefferson City's Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City.

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