Jun 15-Jul 24, 2015
Credit: 1 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $338.50
Instructor(s): Joseph Bradshaw

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Course Description

Grassy areas – plains, prairies and meadows – rarely get the attention that lakes do, for example, or forests. But are grassy areas really that boring? What is the difference between the grass in your lawn and the bunchgrass in the field? Why are grasslands of any size important? How does land use change community composition?

In this course, we will take a closer look at one or two grass communities near your home or school and address these questions and others. You will complete six activities in this course:
  • Examine grass plants and learn some of their biology.
  • Locate and describe an important grassland in your area, a park, for example, explaining why it is special.
  • Locate and describe one or two study areas for your class project that ideally could be used for your own classroom activities.
  • Identify 8-10 major plants in your study areas and construct a dichotomous key to the plants that could be used by your students.
  • Quantitatively compare two features between or within your study areas, collecting data and analyzing them statistically (a sample statistics problem will be provided).
  • Write a short paper on your project, following scientific paper format. A “Question of the Week” will spark discussion among class members.
This course will get you outside, investigating areas that you find interesting and relevant to you and your students. It may be combined with BIOL 519: Biology of Riparian Zones and Wetlands, for observing similarities and differences between drier and wetter communities.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 5 - 8 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 1 credit graduate course.


Joseph Bradshaw, MS.


Two or more years of teaching experience.

Target Audience

Middle and high school science teachers.

Time Commitment:

5-8 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $68.50
 Computer Fee$3.50
 Distributed Learning Fee$0.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount. You will be prompted to enter your membership number at the time you register.

Required Books/Materials

  • Materials will be provided electronically by your instructor.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

contact Diana Paterson at or 406-994-5679.

How to Register

Register Online