The Gillaspy lab has participated in science outreach to Virginia high schools for the past 16 years. Our main goal is to assist teachers of 9th grade Biology classes with providing students an authentic research experience in a classroom setting. This outreach initiative engages 9th grade high school students in a large-scale plant genomics research project. Each year, our lab sends supplies for students to grow plants and design experiments to discover the function of a single or multiple plant genes. Additionally, our lab group travels to James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia to engage with these students and talk with them about their experimental designs as well as answer questions relating to plant genomics and careers in STEM. For some students this will be one of their only chances to design and implement an experiment, and then to receive critical feedback. One of our largest impacts is on increasing student understanding of what data are, and how they are used to draw conclusions. We see this as an important contribution, especially given our current public perception of science.