Welcome to the Science and Plants for Schools newsletter, especially for our SAPS Associates. We’ve got resources, research, news and grants for you.
Coming soon – six new SAPS resources from an “amazing”, “awesome” week
“Amazing”, “awesome,” and “I am still buzzing and I have used one of the practicals I picked up on Friday” – just some of the comments from the teachers SAPS took to the Gatsby Plants Summer School. Lively practicals on plant pathology, ecology, cell biology and developmental genetics, and lectures by the UK’s leading plant scientists, left us bubbling over with ideas for new classroom resources. Each of the teachers is now working on a new resource inspired by the Summer School. Resources include one introducing plant leaf physiology through an innovative practical with infra-red thermometers, and another that asks students to consider stunning videos of Golgi bodies taken with a confocal microscope, using them to measure protein transport.
The resources will be available to members of the SAPS Associates scheme from next January onwards, and to non-members later in the academic year.
We hope to bring another group of SAPS Associates to next year’s Summer School, in early July 2011.
Coming soon: a new look for the SAPS website
With 20 years of resources already on the site, and more being added regularly, it’s time for the SAPS website to update. We’re planning to make it easier to find the resource you want, and easier to find new resources you haven’t used before. With the help of people with both technical and teaching expertise, the SAPS team is working through all the resources, ready to transfer them over to the new site, which will be launched at the ASE conference in January 2011.
Grants: Time, space and money to inspire?
With time, space and money at your disposal, could you develop curriculum resources that inspire? If so, the SAPS - Nuffield Foundation Education Fellowship might be for you. We’re looking for experienced teachers with an interest in plant science to spend up to 6 months part-time or 3 months full-time with the Nuffield Foundation Curriculum Programme, working on new curriculum resources. Your secondment to the programme will be fully funded. For more information, find out more at - http://bit.ly/czpI1s
And if you’re looking for a way to bring science alive in your classroom, and need some funding to make it happen, the Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme is now open for applications. (Closing date is 5 November 2010.) The scheme offers up to £3000 to support teachers, scientists and engineers working together to inspire young people. Find out more - http://bit.ly/9tC0Ci
Resources: An Apple a Day keeps the Teacher Away…
A team of 86 scientists from 20 labs worldwide have sequenced the huge apple genome for the first time, after a two year project. The team discovered that the size of the apple genome may be the result of repeated genome-wide duplications, reaching back into its evolutionary history. The BBC covers the story here: http://bbc.in/cqCaR7
Are new apples with built-in health benefits on already their way? Snapshot Science has put together a resource on the breeding of one such ‘super-healthy’ apple, with bright red flesh filled with antioxidants. For Powerpoints, videos and web links - http://bit.ly/9n4VGD
News: Plants – the best physicists on the planet?
What happens when you put together a biologist, a physicist, and one of the most primitive but most successful plant genera? Sphagnum moss is one of the simplest plants, but to reproduce they have developed an incredible technique for shooting their spores using complex fluid dynamics at 40 miles an hour into a mushroom cloud. “Not only are plants the best chemists on the planet, but they might be the best physicists,” says physicist Dwight Whitaker.
See the amazing videos here: http://bit.ly/dv64AT
Hear Dwight Whitaker talking about his research here: http://bit.ly/bBUkEX
Resources: Are we really in control of plants?
Do we control plants – or does their ability to manipulate biochemistry mean they’re controlling us? ‘The Botany of Desire’, a 4 part series from the US, puts this question together with amazing photography, controversial opinions, and fascinating science. I heartily recommend this brief video, if only for the amazing scenes in the Dutch flower markets: http://bit.ly/cUbZek
And, specifically for teachers, they’ve put together a series of clips from the series for use in lessons. The lesson plans refer to the US curricula, of course, but the video clips are well worth using - http://to.pbs.org/bUW0qL
News: What’s wrong with photosynthesis?
Just how good at photosynthesis are plants? And are they good enough at it to feed a growing planet? ‘New Scientist’ talks to the scientists around the world taking on the seemingly impossible challenge of improving the result of 2 billion years of evolution. From plants with their leaves arranged more efficiently, tweaking ‘lackadaisical’ rubisco, and even converting plants from C3 to C4 photosynthesis, plant scientists are at work.
"In 2050 we have to produce a lot more food. The only biological precedent for a major step change in productivity is the evolution of C4. We'll be lucky to do it in 15 or 20 years. But if we don't start trying now, we won't do it at all," says scientist Julian Hibbert of Cambridge University’.
Getting Practical: Thinking Walks and Science Gardens
We’ve been asking you, the SAPS Associates, what you’d like to see from SAPS. We’ve had an amazing array of responses, but a number of people have told us about their success creating Darwin-inspired ‘Thinking Walks’ and ‘Science Gardens’ within the school grounds – practical, resilient areas of planting which allow students to consider themes such as evolution and adaptation in action. We’re thinking about putting together resources on creating a practical, useful Science Garden in your school – would this appeal to you and your pupils? What topics would you want it to teach? And what practical considerations would we need to bear in mind? We’ve been granted an unprepossessing strip of soil at the edge of a former playground to bring an example Science Garden to life…
And finally, why are plants green?
Because the sea used to be purple.
What do you mean, that isn’t a proper explanation? http://bit.ly/9lRjdI
If you’ve been sent this mail by a colleague and aren’t yet a SAPS Associate yourself, why not join up to the scheme? The free SAPS Associates scheme gives you advance access to resources, information about grant opportunities, tips and ideas from other teachers and technicians, and will offer privileged access to the SAPS expert Q & A panel. To sign up, join us here: http://bit.ly/9PPphF
If you want to leave the SAPS Associates scheme, email us to let us know.