Department of Botany & Plant Sciences

Plant Discovery Day


Botany & Plant Sciences: Spotlight


The 7th annual Plant Discovery Day is planned for May 5th--giving children from disadvantaged homes in Riverside the opportunity to experience science first hand. 

Plant Discovery Day


This event brings over 100 fifth grade students from Highland Elementary School in Riverside to UCR for a day of interactive science demonstrations, led by graduate students. The activities focus on the importance of plants in our society from the perspective of food, fuel, and sustainability.

 Plant Discovery Day aims to engage these students in a series of activities related to plants, science and higher education

 Our mascots Scotty the Bear and Norm the Naval join the students in this fun filled day which encourages disadvantaged students to consider pursuing higher education and careers in the sciences.


This year’s station include:

 1)    Scanning Electron Microscopy, presented by Dr. David Carter. Students will view various organisms (i.e. plant organs or a bee with pollen grains stuck to its body) under a scanning electron microscope, focus the microscope themselves, and take home a photograph of the organism viewed.

2)    Citrus at UCR. Students will learn the history of creating new types of citrus at UCR, including how these fruits are developed and improved by UCR researchers and growers, and will have the opportunity to sample several citrus varieties created at UCR.

3)    Carbon Dioxide Exchange. Students will be introduced to the concept of living in a world where carbon dioxide levels are rising via a demonstration in which more and more students enter a carbon dioxide tent as the students observe the rising carbon dioxide levels.

4)    Plant Physiology. Students will be introduced to the importance of plant anatomy and specialized structures for a plant’s response to changes in the environment, including light, water, and temperature.

5)    Alternative Energy/Biofuels. Students will be introduced to the idea of plants as a source of fuel through an interactive demonstration of the different types of biofuels currently being developed.

6)    Scientific Illustration, presented by Tania Marien. A scientific illustrator will guide students through the basic steps of precise scientific illustration and the students will get to take their drawings home with them.

7)    Strawberry DNA Extraction. Students will learn about DNA and its importance to life by participating in a hands-on lab in which they will use soap to extract DNA from strawberries. They will then be given the DNA to wear as a pendant on a necklace.

8)    Plant Biotechnology. Students will learn about the many ways scientists can use genetics and breeding to produce plant varieties that are better in fitness and able to withstand different environmental stresses.

9)    College Talk. Students will receive information on what it takes to get into college and what they can expect when they attend college. They will be encouraged to ask any questions about any aspect of college they wish to know more about, both during this station and during the walk to and from the UCR campus.

10)Scientist Photograph and Break. Students will use this time to use the restroom and to get water. Additionally, each student will have the opportunity to be photographed with typical scientific apparel/items of her/his choosing (i.e. with a lab coat, safety glasses, gloves, shielding mask, or flask) and they will be given this photograph to take home with them to show their families.


History of Plant Discovery Day

 Plant Discovery Day was created by graduate students from UCR and staff from Highland Elementary School and is proudly sanctioned by the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. Highland Elementary School's students, teachers, principal and parents, as well as UCR student volunteers, declared the event a huge success in 2012 and 2013.


How You Can Help

 We are eager to have Plant Discovery Day continue annually for each 5th grade class and expand the opportunity to other local elementary schools. Unfortunately, our department lacks the funds to finance the entire event.

UCR Online Giving

 Your gift of any amount will have a positive impact on disadvantaged students by introducing them to the opportunities available at a university; it may plant the seeds of encouragement toward higher education, a keen enthusiasm for science and an awareness of the importance of plants in the world around us. All of this is a step toward building a foundation of intellectual interest and perseverance that will carry them through the decades to come.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Department & Program Information

Department of Botany & Plant Sciences
2142 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-4619
Fax: (951) 827-4437
E-mail: bpschair@ucr.edu

Plant Biology Graduate Program
CNAS Grad Student Affairs Office
1140 Batchelor Hall

Toll: (800) 735-0717
Tel: (951) 827-5688
Fax: (951) 827-5517
E-mail: Laura.mcgeehan@ucr.edu