Hands on Plants Science (HOPS)

For the past five summers, the United States Botanic Garden has hosted hundreds of urban children and teachers in the National Garden for Hands On Plant Science (HOPS). Participants immerse themselves in the natural world; they dangle over the bridge and learn that clean water is critical for plants and all life forms, they explore the power of the sun and learn how plants make their own food, they watch pollinators in action and have the opportunity to wander and wonder. The National Garden becomes an outdoor classroom where students and teachers use microscopes, dissect flowers, analyze soil and learn how seeds travel.

HOPS, 2012

HOPS (Hands on Plant Science) Summer Program:                                                                       

Each year we hire four teachers and eight students (must be at least a rising junior) to help facilitate our two-week HOPS program.

Teachers and students will lead a Hands on Plant Science experience for DC youth between the ages of seven and 12. This two-week program takes place outside in the National Garden. Program staff will gain plant science teaching skills and knowledge, with a special emphasis on hands-on learning.

HOW TO APPLY: Please submit an application no later than Feburary 1, 2016. 

For an application and more information click here. Questions and completed applications may be directed to Lee Coykendall at lcoykend@aoc.gov. 

HOPS (Hands on Plant Science) Institute for Teachers:

Through generous donations, HOPS has expanded to include a teacher training component. This summer we will enroll 15 teachers in a HOPS teacher training. Teachers will immerse themselves in the National Garden working with HOPS educational modules and will take a HOPS kit and accompany lesson plans back to their classrooms.

Teachers attending the HOPS Institute will experience all 16 modules over the course of two days and have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the U.S. Botanic Garden. Teachers successfully completing the Institute will receive a HOPS box which contains the equipment to carry out these hands on experiments back in their classroom and Certificates of Participation for 14 professional learning units.

Program Description: Day One will be all about water, its importance to plants and plants importance to water, the importance of water to all life and the current health of our local bodies of water. Participants will use microscopes, test water for temperature, PH and dissolved oxygen, learn about watersheds, and build a watershed and water filter. Day Two is all about how plants work and photosynthesis. Students and teachers will perform plant cuttings and see how oxygen leaves the plant and how plants takes in our carbon dioxide, learn that sugar really does happen in the leaf using refractometers, create art using the power of the sun and make seed balls.  Day Three explores nature as art. Participants will have a chance to settle into the quiet of the National Garden and water color, use compasses to make sundials and microscopically explore the tiniest of plants. Students will dissect flowers and learn how pollination works while we keep our eyes out for the many pollinators in the Garden. The final day, Day Four will tie everything together with an investigation during which we explore seed dispersal, pollen identification using microscopes, learn that nectar differs from flower to flower, that different flowers have different pollinators, and that soil is not dirt.

HOW TO APPLY: Please submit an application no later than Febuary 1, 2016. 

For an application and more information click here. Questions and completed applications may be directed to friends


To learn more about how The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company supports HOPS, click here