Project Exploration

Behind the Camera

Youth Science and Media student journalists interview guest scientist Jotham Austin II, PhD, Director of the Advanced Electron Microscopy Core Facility, Gordon Center of Integrated Science.
Students left to right- Israh Davis, Kendrea Hall, Deja Stone


By Tracee Stanford, Project Exploration Media Instructor

As spring time emerges,  those with green thumbs will be happy to know that Youth Science and Media (YSM) students at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School (YWLCS) have busted a myth about plants. Can you drown a plant? That was the question at hand on Wednesday, April 2nd, when eight YSM student journalists gathered to interview guest scientist Jotham Austin, II Phd, Director of the Advanced Electron Microscopy Core Facility- Gordon Center of Integrated Science.

Youth Science and Media students Deja Stone (left) and Kendrea Hall (right) set up for an interview with scientist Jotham Austin II PhD

Youth Science and Media students Deja Stone (left) and Kendrea Hall (right) set up to interview their guest scientist.

According to Austin, many people may not realize that they actually can drown their house or  garden plants. Austin explained that overwatering and improper drainage results in flooding. He says too much water causes the plants root structure to become flooded, which does not allow for proper gas exchange. Like animals, plants rely on  gas exchange to live.

Jayda Interview 2

Jotham Austin II, Phd is interviewed by Youth Science and Media journalists.
Students left to right- Jayda Hubbard, Kasiah Henderson

The YSM team did an excellent job exercising reporting skills  this week. Following up on this week’s lesson on journalism ethics, many of the students were able to identify statements that could have been considered bias. Austin was kind enough to plant such statements in his discussion to test the students understanding of news bias.

Israh and Cells 2

Youth Science and Media journalists examine plant cell structures.
Front- Israh Davis, Back- Kendrea Hall

Going beyond the surface, YSM students examined photos of healthy plant cells and discussed the structures with their science expert. Kasiah Henderson, a 7th grader at YWLCS, was curious to know how one might tell if a plant cell is sick.  Austin was happy to explain that there are different structures within plant cells and if a plant was sick, or poisoned, the microscopic view of the cell would show structures trying to accumulate the poison and throw it out. Austin says, this is the process of exocytosis.


Youth Science and Media student Kasiah Henderson learns about how plant cells fight diseases.

Learning about the structures of plant cells was an eye opening experience for the the YSM youth. With their new found knowledge, I think the YSM team would agree that “it’s not easy being green,” and will handle plants with extra care in the future, and encourage others to do the same.


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