Norm Lownds

Associate Professor

Norm Lownds
1066 Bogue St, Room A240-B
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: (517) 353-0349

Area of Expertise: Youth education; using technology for experiential learning; 4-H Children’s Garden Director.

Quick links: Education   Teaching   Publications    Outreach    Research

Joined Department

July 1997


25% Teaching
25% Research
50% Extension - 4-H Children’s Garden


Ph.D., Horticulture, Michigan State University
M.S., Horticulture, Michigan State University
B.S., Horticulture, Michigan State University

Education and Technology

I am very interested in science education and learning and how hands-on, experiential learning can be enhanced and expanded through technology.  To examine this, my program is continually involved in projects that develop and integrate computer applications into the hands-on learning that occurs in the 4-H Children’s Garden.  Studies typically involve curricula development, including specific technology integration, delivering discovery experiences and evaluating effects on attitudes and learning. 

Very recently I have started to look at how we can use the ideas, concepts, tools and power of Web 2 to even further enhance and expand learning opportunities.


Currently I teach the follwing classes:

HRT 100 - Horticulture, Plants and People

HRT 219 - Landscape CAD

AL 498 - Learning in Museums

Current Research Projects

  • DIGN - Digitally Integrated Garden Network:Working to create an online digital community that connects schools and school gardens from across Michigan to the 4-H Children’s Gardens and to scientists at MSU.
  • HSOS (Head Start on Science) Cluster Ramdomized Trial of the Efficacy of “A Head Start on Science” - creating and testing new ways of professional development for Head Start teachers to specifically increase their comfort with, interest in and ability to teach science to preschool children.
  • Seeds of Science – we are developing and evaluating multi-day 4-H Garden field trip experiences and evaluating effects on students attitudes toward science and changes in their specific content knowledge through concept mapping. (
  • On-line Wonder Wall – Wonder Walls connect learners, teachers, off-site experts and students in real time and asynchronously to persistent, playful, moderated, spatial communication environments designed for collaborative learning.  We are currently examining how various ages and groups use Wonder Walls, the types of questions that are asked and how Wonder Walls affect learning and interactions with scientists. (


My outreach / extension duties are the 4-H Children’s Gardens.

Click here to visit our award winning Kidstour.


Selected Recent Publications:

Lownds, N.K., K. Poff, M. Root-Bernstein and R. Root-Bernstein. 2010. Thinking Tools, Science Curricula and Cultural Learning: Does the Disconnect Promote Poor Performance by Minorities in STEM Subjects? SACNAS News 12:8-9.

Driscoll, and N.K. Lownds. 2007. The Garden Wonder Wall: Fostering Wonder and Curiosity on Multi-Day Garden Field Trips. Applied Environmental Education & Communication 6:105-112.

Heeter, C., N. Lownds and B. Rhodes. 2006.  Wonderwalls: Playful Peer to Peer to Expert Collaborative Learning Spaces. Proceedings SigGraph 2005, Los Angeles, CA.

Heeter, C. and Lownds, N. Design Discussion, Professional Interaction Design Portfolio Panel, International CHI Conference, April, 2002 (Computer-Human Interaction), Minneapolis.

Lownds, N.K. 2001. Connecting to the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden.  Media Spectrum 28: 30-32.

Lownds, N.K. 2001. Growing Tomorrow’s Customers.  The Voice 44:28-31.

Lownds, N.K. 2000.  Children’s Gardens in a New Millennium.  The American Gardener.  79: 19-23.
Sabba, R.P., T.M. Sterling and N.K. Lownds. 1998. Effect of picloram on resistant and susceptible yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis): The role of ethylene. Weed Sci (accepted)

Sterling, T.M., N.K. Lownds and L.W. Murray. 1996. Effect of broom snakeweed stage of pland growth on picloram uptake and picloram-induced ethylene production. J. Range Mgmt.

Morrison, R.G., N.K. Lownds and T.M. Sterling. 1994 Picloram uptake, translocation and efficacy in relation to water status of Russian Knapweed (Centaurea repens L.) Weed Sci. 43:34-39.

Lownds, N.K., M. Banaras and P.W. Bosland. 1994. Relationships between postharvest water loss and physical properties of pepper fruit (Capsicum annuum L.) HortScience 28:1182-1184.

Berghage, R.D. and N.K. Lownds. 1991. Using writing in horticultural education. HortTechnology 1:124-126.

Web Pages and Materials:

Lownds, N.K. 2012. Digitally Integrated Garden Network (DIGN).

Lownds, N.K. 2012. MyGarden K-12 lesson plans.

Lownds, N.K. and J. Clarke. 2011. Idea Seekers Garden.

Lownds, N.K., P. Maziak and C. Heeter. 2003. 4-H Children’s Garden Wondercasts.

Rhodes, B., Peteu, M., N. Lownds and C. Heeter. 2003. On-line Wonderwall software.

Maziak, Pete, Mihai Peteu, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 2001. The 4-H Children’s Garden Kidstour.

Lownds, Mike, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 2001. Build a Plant.

Lownds, M.K., E. Lownds and N.K. Lownds. 2001. School Garden web site.  Summer Garden Club, Wardcliff Elementary School.

Lownds, N.K. 2001. On-line seed germination experiment. Connected Classrooms project, Wardcliff Elementary 5th grade.

Lownds, N.K. 2001. What is Science?  Connected Classrooms project, Wardcliff Elementary 5th grade.

Lin, Yiran, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 2001. Magic Typewriter.

Sawyer, Tory, Norm Lownds and Carrie Heeter. 2000. The Alice in Wonderland 3-D On-line Maze.

Peteu, Mihai, Norm Lownds and Carrie Heeter. 2000. Water me Game.

Gopal, Sulakshana, Norm Lownds and Carrie Heeter. 2000. Going buggy Game.

Kurf, P., N.K. Lownds and C. Heeter. 2000. On-line Dance Chimes.

Maziak, P., N.K. Lownds and C. Heeter. 2000. The On-line Sundial.

Maziak, P., N.K. Lownds and C. Heeter. 2000.

Revised 4-H Children’s Garden web page:

Lownds, N.K., B. Winn and C. Heeter. 1999. 4-H Children’s Garden “Talk Back”.

Chen, Jiatyan , Jill Hallden, Barry Carr, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 1999. The Garden Pizza Place.

King, Christy, Jason Freevol, David Fueling, Pete Maziak, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 1999. Shakey the Caterpillar.

Hicks, Katherine, Brad Dixon, Carrie Heeter and Norm Lownds. 1999. ABC’s and 123’s.

Leach, Matt, Norm Lownds and Carrie Heeter. 1999. The Important Stuff, Tips for Parents.

Gleason, J., C. Gonzales, K. Wiburg and N.K. Lownds. 1998. Digital Desert Library: A model for teacher change using culturally-relevant, inquiry-based science education.

Gleason, J., C. Gonzales, K. Wiburg, N.K. Lownds and M. Anklam. 1997. Seeds of Change Garden.

Lownds, N.K. 1997. Cooperative creation of school gardens: New Mexico State University Landscape Horticulture classes and Valley View elementary school. Taproot.

CD-ROM Materials:

Sawyer, Tory, N.K. Lownds and C. Heeter. 2002. Enchanted Math in the Garden.

King, K., C. Heeter and N.K. Lownds.  2001.  The Garden Symphony.

Lownds, N.K., B. Winn, S. Telschow, P. Maziak, G. Casarol and C. Heeter. 1999. Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, Virtual Tour and Plant Problems.

Other publications:

Valenzuela-Valenzuela, J., N.K. Lownds and T.M. Sterling. 2001. Ethylene is not involved in clopyralid action in yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.)  Pestic. Biochem. and Phys. 72: 142-152

Valenzuela-Valenzuela, J., N.K. Lownds and T.M. Sterling. 2001 Clopyralid uptake, translocation and metabolism and ethylene induction in picloram-resistant yellow starthistle (Centuarea solstitialis L.)  Pestic. Biochem. and Phys. 71:11-19.

Sterling, T.M., N.K. Lownds and L.W. Murray.  2001.  Picloram-resistant and -susceptible Centaurea solstitialis accessions have similar competitive ability. Weed Sci. 49:42-47.

Knoche, M., N.K. Lownds and M.J. Bukovac. 2000.  Spray Application Factors and Plant Growth Regulator Performance: IV. Dose Response Relationships.  J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 125: 195-199.