It's a new year, and after a hugely successful visit to the ASE Annual Conference, we're welcoming many new teachers and trainee teachers to the SAPS Associates scheme. We hope that, whether you're just beginning your teaching career or you've got many years of experience behind you, you'll find this newsletter packed with useful resources and ideas.
SAPS Associate Awards
Do you have a head full of ideas for new teaching resources... if only you had the time and money to develop them properly? Do you have a great science lesson that you'd like to develop and share with teachers around the UK? If so, the SAPS Associate Awards are for you.
The first round of the SAPS Associate Awards attracted applicants with an exciting range of proposals. Projects now in development include developing Gratzel cells to demonstrate photosynthesis, resources on phytoremediation, careers materials for A-level students, resources on evolution and phylogenetics, a method to show succession in the classroom and resources looking at plant science in physics and chemistry.
We're now offering our a second round of Associate Awards with grants of up to £500 to help you develop new teaching resources, which we’ll then share on the website. Find out more at www.saps.org.uk/awards (Closing date for applications is 24th February)
New resource - Plants in the Science Curriculum
The first of our brand new resources for 2012 is Plants in the Science Curriculum, a review of accessible, low-budget plants that can provide material for a wealth of investigations, practicals and demos at secondary and post-16 level. For those of you feeling less than green-fingered, we've included full care notes on all the plants on the list. And for those of you who fancy a challenge, we've added five 'star plants' - inspirational but not so easy to keep flourishing.
Win one of three Digiflex camera for your classroom, worth £200 each - complete our survey
Science teacher and Nuffield Education Fellow Vicki Cottrell would like to find out more about your use of microscopy in the classroom. She's created a survey on this topic, and we will use the information you provide to develop
practical microscopy resources for the classroom.
To thank you for completing this survey, we have three Digiflexs (each worth over £200) to give away to three lucky schools. A Digiflex is an accessory can be attached to a microscope and PC via a USB to share images with whole classes via a screen or OHP. The winners will be drawn at random when the survey is closed. Good luck!
Student investigations - how we can help
ASE Annual Conference - resources
Whether or not you joined us at the ASE Annual Conference this year, we've put together a page with links to all the practicals that we demonstrated on our stand and at the workshop:
And if you want to take a whole new look at the topic of pressure in plant and animal cells, the slides for Dr Jeremy Pritchard's lecture, plus all the others in the 'Biology in the Real World' lecture series, are available to download here:
News - Carnivorous plant devours underground worms
My favourite news story of 2012 so far - an entirely new way for carnivorous plants to catch their prey has been discovered, in a Brazilian plant that grows leaves underground and covers them in 'glue' and digestive enzyems, catching and digesting worms slithering by. The plant, Philcoxia minensis, grows on the shallow white sands of the Brazilian cerrado, and presumably gains additional nutrients through its unusual adaptation:
News - Is chocolate in danger?
You may think that after Christmas, you don't want to see any more chocolate for a while - but will you have the choice? Eminent chocolatologist Dr Frank Almeda of the California Academy of Sciences explains why the way in which we grow cocoa beans may lead to world shortages:
News - The physics of buttercups
An interdisciplinary team of physicists and plant scientists have found that the distinctive glossiness of the buttercup, which children like to shine under the chin
to test whether their friends like butter, is related to its unique
anatomical structure. The epidermal layer of cells has not one but two extremely flat surfaces from which light is reflected, effectively doubling the glossiness of the petal. The team hope that this will help them further their work to understand the interaction between plants and pollinators.
Care notes for plants in the lab - January
If you've got a pelargonium or a spider plant in your lab, don't
forget they'll need much less water over the winter period, when they
are not growing actively. Full details are at www.saps.org.uk/growplants
If you need to look at photosynthesis at this time of year, we recommend using the pond weed Cabomba (a more reliable alternative to Elodea) or our popular algal balls activity.
Getting science and gardening clubs growing
Do you have a school garden or are you planning to have a school garden? If so then you can find lots of resources on growing on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website. It includes what to do in your garden this month, what are the easiest vegetables to grow in school, plants for a wildlife garden and even a resource on Olympic connections, with garden ideas inspired by London 2012. If you plot the progress of your school garden you could be eligible to apply for the Alan Titchmarsh Award of £250 national garden gift vouchers.
And finally - The most alien place on earth?
Socotra, off the coast of Yemen, is one of the most isolated places on earth, with one third of its species totally unique to the archipelago. The result is a landscape filled with unimaginable trees, shrubs and flowers, adapted to its seemingly inhospitable environment. Take a look at this collection of photos of Socotra - even the city looks other worldly.