News and Notes

The American Chestnut

The Half-Earth Project Educator Ambassador program provides educators with compelling, classroom-ready content designed to engage students in biodiversity science and conservation.

This week, lead Educator Ambassador Dennis Liu interviews experts about the significance of the American Chestnut and exciting efforts underway to bring it back from functional extinction. Classroom materials included.

The American Chestnut: More Than Just a Tree

Sara Fitzsimmons and Jared Westbrook of The American Chestnut Foundation introduce us to the cultural, economic, and ecological value of the functionally extinct American Chestnut and ongoing efforts to bring it back to our forests. (16 minutes)

Genetic Engineering to Resist Chestnut Blight

Bill Powell, a leading molecular biologist working to engineer blight resistance into American Chestnut trees, gives an easy to understand primer on how genetic engineering works and why it could be useful for conservation. Especially good for AP Biology and for bringing conservation into cell and molecular biology. (12 minutes)

Restoring the American Chestnut Forest: Breeding, Biotechnology, Biocontrol

Scientists Jared Westbrook and Sara Fitzsimmons talk about using the best scientific methods to develop healthy American Chestnut trees to return to forests in the US and Canada. (18 minutes)

Tragic Loss of the Redwoods of the East

Sara Fitzsimmons and Jared Westbrook talk about how important the Chestnut was to our forests and how devastating the chestnut blight was, especially for the Appalachian region of the United States. (17 minutes)

From the Woods American Chestnut

This four-page document is a good illustrated, student-friendly introduction to the American Chestnut. We’ve added some discussion points in our American Chestnut Resource Guide.

Legend of the America Chesnut

This book was written and illustrated by students in Poolsville, MD, inspired by the learning and service experience they had with an American Chestnut restoration project.

American Chestnut Educational Resources Guide

This guide lists additional resources with ideas and focus questions for using the American Chestnut as a case for teaching about the multi-disciplinary aspects of conservation and recovery of species and biodiversity.

Saving the American Chestnut: GMOs in Nature

In this science literacy activity, students use close-reading strategies and text-dependent questions to analyze the article The Nature of Nature by Rowan Jakobson. The students use the sense-making activities to formulate an argument about the use of genetic engineering to save the American Chestnut.

This activity is a great way to bring Common Core Standards into your science classroom.

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