Hands-on Plants Science (HOPS)

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) has hosted hundreds of urban children and teachers in the Regional 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 form; 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.


Each year, we hire four teachers and eight students (must be at least a rising high school 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 twelve. 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 April 1st, 2019. 

For an application and more information click here. Questions and completed applications may be directed to Lee Coykendall (Children's Education Specialist, United States Botanic Gardens) at lcoykend@aoc.gov


June 24 - 25, 2019

9:00 am -5:00 pm

We are very excited to once again offer our HOPS (Hands-On Plant Science) Teacher Institute. Fifteen teachers will be selected to attend our HOPS Institute. Teachers will immerse themselves in our National Garden and experience 16 modules over the course of two days. 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 14 professional learning units. Please note: This training occurs outdoors.

HOPS Teacher Institute Program Description: Day One will cover 8 modules. We will learn all about water: its importance to plants, plants importance to water, the importance of water to all life, and the current health of our local bodies of water. We will: use microscopes; test water for temperature, PH and dissolved oxygen; learn about watersheds; and build a watershed and water filter. The afternoon is all about how plants work and photosynthesis. Participants will: perform plant cuttings, see how oxygen leaves the plant, how plants take 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 Two explores nature as art in the morning. Participants will have a chance to settle into the quiet of the National Garden, watercolor, use compasses to make sundials, and microscopically explore the tiniest of plants. Participants will dissect flowers and learn how pollination works, while we keep our eyes out for the many pollinators in the Garden. The afternoon is when 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, different flowers have different pollinators, and that soil is not dirt.

HOW TO APPLY: Please submit an application no later than April 1st, 2019. 

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


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