Crazy Lazy Corn!!!: A Book about Plant Genetics for Students and Future Scientists

2021 FAPA President’s Book Awards Winner: Silver: Young Adult: Non-fiction

This book shares the wonder of science and plant genetics with young students, teachers, and popular audiences. It will stimulate curiosity about plants, using corn (maize) mutants as a means to achieve this goal. Maize and corn are the same thing. Plant scientists, such as the authors of this book, often use the word “maize,” but the general public more frequently uses the word “corn.” Both maize and corn are correct as common names. The scientific name for the genus and species is Zea mays. For nearly 20 years, the authors and university professors Drs. Bass and Onokpise have worked with middle and high school kids during the summer months demonstrating plant genetics and breeding practices. Because the students showed great curiosity and enjoyment working with and learning about maize mutants in the field and laboratory, we decided to make this book. It seeks to engage the reader with fun facts and links to contemporary research topics and resources. This unique book reflects our vision of sharing the love of maize mutants that has inspired countless students, scientists, and farmers for over 100 years. An equally important goal of this book is to explain how knowledge of plant genetics is key to solving many of the grand challenges for future generations, such as world hunger. The content ranges widely from the origins of agriculture to Mendelian inheritance and its role in the Green Revolution and McClintock’s discovery of jumping genes. It teaches about DNA, genetics, and mutations. Highlighted are some of the students’ favorite mutants, such as the lazy, knotted, dwarf, albino, and wrinkled sweet corn mutants. The book touches on the importance of maize in culture and art, and ends with information on how to obtain and grow your own maize mutants. Throughout the book, we have included links to additional information related to these topics, which we hope will be useful for teaching in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines while addressing next-generation science standards.

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