Project Based Laboratory

The Laboratory Experience

Project-Based Learning

Students in this lab build and use a 3D-printed device to perform gravitropism assays. The device, Flashlapse, allows researchers to insert a petri dish containing seeds of the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and observe through time-lapse photography how this small plant responds to growth in an upright direction and what happens to the plant when the gravitational direction is rotated (Fig. 1). The device also has 4 different colors of LED lights so that light can be tested as a variable that might impact the growth of plants too. Importantly, the device also has a camera so that images can be taken every few minutes to monitor the growth of the plants. The Flashlapse device basically allows researchers (including undergraduate student researchers) to determine which genes might be important for a plant’s response to changes in gravitational direction and differing light conditions. Its power lies in that it offers a simple simulation of spaceflight conditions here on Earth and allows a researcher to determine which genes might be important for plants to survive and adapt during long-duration missions in space.

The Lab Manual

The lab manual is available via the google docs below. The manual is frequently updated. The documents below represent the most current version.

Other Resources:

Thank you to Drs. Simon Gilroy and Richard Barker (UW-Madison) for providing access to the Flashlapse curriculum and collaborating on the development of this laboratory experience.