Wisconsin Fast Plants Network

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Hedi Baxter Lauffer
  • Madison, WI
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In my work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I am the Director of the Wisconsin Fast Plants Program. I also research teacher learning, and am the PI and lead on several Program grants.

I have many and diverse interests. In science, I tend to wonder about plants and other living organisms and their interactions with environments where they live. I study biological and Earth sciences along with science education and leadership for improving science teaching and learning opportunities.

I believe that, as science educators, we have a remarkable opportunity and responsibility to help learners of all ages become aware of how they understand and prioritize information, make critical decisions, and assess the impact of their decisions.

Currently, some of the fun projects that hold my attention (in addition to this great Social Network) include:

Reading Green - our elementary science/literacy/math unit

The Wisconsin Fast Plants Digital Resources Library (recently accessioned by the National Science Digital Library)

Worldwide networking through @fastplants on twitter

Our YouTube communications

Here are some links to a few collaborations that I've had the good fortune to be involved with:

SCALE Science Inquiry

Professional Learning Communities for Science Teaching (Chapter 4)

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center's Education and Outreach

Thank you for participating in our social network, and special thanks to all of you who contribute ideas and questions to keep our network lively!


Hedi Baxter Lauffer's Blog

Teaching Genetics with Fast Plants--Abbreviating Procedures to Fit Busy Schedules

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 12:37pm 0 Comments

I'm sharing here a DRAFT document that describes options for teaching genetics with our "Who's the Father?" procedures in ways that reduce the amount of class time required. We receive quite a few requests for help with timing these…


Earth Day 2011

Posted on April 19, 2011 at 9:45am 2 Comments

With Earth Day approaching, I'm thinking about how important it is--now more than ever--for learners to have a grasp of how scientific practices involve models and modeling. For example, models and model organisms are used extensively by scientists who are involved in the types of systems thinking that are necessary for understanding pressing concerns such as climate change, the impact of the nuclear disaster in Japan or the oil pollution in the gulf. Our students need to develop an… Continue

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Comment Wall (16 comments)

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At 6:33pm on January 6, 2014, James Zagray said…

Thanks Hedi.  And thank you for your email reply and invitation to the network.  I still have some questions about using the Jiffy pellets to grow fast plants.  Are there any step-by-step instructions for using them that includes how to handle "fluffing", planting depth, vermiculite, fertilizer, wicking... etc?

At 10:44am on August 20, 2013, Astrid Helfant said…

Thank you, Hedi. I would appreciate a response by the end of this month or at the very latest by Labor Day. This way I can anticipate my discussion with my AP Bio students early September.

I'm excited for the year to start. It will be so much easier than last year with now some experience under my belt.

At 3:49pm on March 4, 2013, Mattia Rossi said…

Thanks Hedi,

your answer arrived just in time...maybe I will change direction...

Just a picture of my students working on fast plants and some results (data were collected last tuesday) I will discuss with them tomorrow...

At 12:08pm on November 27, 2012, ali karimi said…


At 1:49pm on September 19, 2012, Greg de Nevers said…

Hi Hedi,

The physiology resource isn't it.  It had lots of nice illustrations of each life stage.  Perhaps the curriculum has been changed since I looked at it.  It seems much more text dominated now, less illustrated.  Thanks, Greg

At 2:20pm on September 18, 2012, Greg de Nevers said…

Hi Hedi,

Thanks for the welcome. 

When I did fast plants a few years ago there was a resource that showed simple stem anatomy: node, internode, leaf, bud ect.  I can't find it now.  Can you help me?  Thanks, Greg

At 4:30am on April 26, 2012, Ken Connor said…

I will be at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC this week. One of the example activities I will be telling people about is our work with Fast Plants last summer.

At 8:06pm on June 24, 2011, Ken Connor said…

The purpose of our experiment is to develop an inexpensive approach to monitoring the growth of the plants by measuring the light that gets past the leaf canopy. We are also trying different types of lights, largely because the light they produce is different and measures differently. Since we are using a measurement approach that requires the use of a laptop, we have also set things up so we can control the measurements from anywhere and can also watch the plants on webcams. We get teased for 'watching plants grow' but you know this is really a lot of fun.

At 12:28pm on May 11, 2011, Deb Henderson said…


I am teaching the FOSS Fast Plants kit.  While the initial lessons on setting up an experiment and having students write their own experiment, it is mostly observation. 


At 12:08am on January 21, 2011, Kelsi FAley said…
Thanks Ms. Baxter Lauffer.  I sent you an e-mail and was hoping you'd have a chance to look at it sometime soon.

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Profile Information

What is your experience with growing Fast Plants?
I've been growing Fast Plants more than five years!
Please describe yourself (in the education world). IMPORTANT NOTE: Any student MEMBER of the network MUST be over 13 years old.
university professor, professional development facilitator, curriculum developer
Please describe the average grade level of those who use Fast Plants with you. IMPORTANT NOTE: Any student MEMBER of the network MUST be over 13 years old.
K-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12, teachers, general public
Please describe the setting(s) in which you use Fast Plants the most.
Individual Project, Public School
What is the name of the school or university that you attend or teach/work?
University of Wisconsin-Madison



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