- Teaching resources: secondary
- Teaching resources: post-16
- Teaching resources: primary
- Reference sources and databases
TES Teaching Resources database - This large collection of free resources from teachers and organisations is a very handy starting point for teaching many science topics. Plants are well represented, including a few useful resources by teachers that build on SAPS's originals.
SAPS Plant Science Image Database Contains images of plants - whole plants, parts of plants, of the insides of plants and of plants in their environment.
Pollen image library - This online library of images includes around 700 images of pollen under the microscope, for use with our various resources looking at the science of pollen.
Identifying Trees and Shrubs An online key to help you identify some of the more common British trees and shrubs.
Plants Are Cool Too! - Episode 1:The pale pitcher plant In the first episode of this popular US video series for 14-19 pupils, botanist Dr Chris Martine gets out on the road, exploring the habitat, life cycle, morphology and ecosystem of Sarracenia alata, a species of carnivorous pitcher plant. Absolutely fascinating, particularly when the botanists begin to slice up the pitcher plants to discover what's been trapped by the slippery sides.
Plants Are Cool, Too! - Episode 2: Fossilised forests In the second episode of this popular US video series for 14-19 pupils, botanist Dr Chris Martine travels to Clarkia, Idaho to unearth the preserved leaves of a forest that last stood 15 million years ago. What the team finds is a group of botanists attempting to extract the oldest DNA samples ever recovered. Well worth watching!
Rediscovering Biology This US-based site is designed for secondary biology teachers to review and revise their subject knowledge in the light of important recent discoveries. It includes an online textbook, together with appropriate case studies of scientific research.
BBSRC is a major funder of bioscience research in the UK. They provide a number of teaching materials based on contemporary research by BBSRC-funded scientists, aimed at primary, secondary and post-16 students. These are on a number of topics, with clear links to the UK curriculum.
schoolscience.co.uk This website from the ASE contains a large number of curriculum-linked science teaching resources and news, including some useful interactive resources.
Royal Society Invigorate Teaching resources from the Royal Society based on contemporary research covering different areas of science from Key Stages 2 to 5, including 'Meet the Algae', focusing on research from the Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University. Many resources include profiles of young scientists.
Darwin's Plants from the Beagle Voyage An inspiring website with very high-definition images of specimens Darwin collected on his Beagle voyage and a brief description.
BBC - Wildlife Finder. The 'Plants' section of the BBC's Wildlife Finder demonstrates phylogenetic relationships and describes plant physiology and ecology. A good resource for feeling your way around the relationships between different groups, including some excellent images and videos.
Tree of Life Web Project An excellent resource for demonstrating phylogenetic relationships between organisms, covering animals, plants, fungi, bacteria etc. Has relevant images and links. Comprehensive but not necessarily very in-depth.
Food and agriculture
The Grain Chain A collection of curriculum-linked teaching resources for ages 5 to 16, based around the grain-based food chain, including topics on agriculture, healthy eating and technology. It includes podcasts and lesson plans.
Science Stories These lively comics from Rothamsted Research introduce a number of topics in contemporary agricultural research, through the work of their scientists.
I'm a Scientist - Get me out of here: GM Food Zone Members of the public put their questions about the opportunities and potential disadvantages to a panel of people with a range of different viewpoints and expertise.
Artemesia quiz A quiz about the breeding of medicinal plant Artemisia annua and its production of a compound, artmemisinin, used to prevent malaria. Introduces some principles of plant breeding to explore how to increase compound yield, based on the work of plant scientists at CNAP at the University of York.
Fast Plants Fast plants (rapid-cycling brassicas) are a variety of brassica bred specifically for the investigation of genetics and plant lifecycles in the classroom. This website introduces the plants and how they can be used in the lab.
Biofuels and renewable resources
Meet the Algae A video from scientists at Cambridge University about their work to develop algae for biofuel uses.
Practical Biofuel Activities A collection of practical protocols for the school lab, developed by the BBSRC and UK scientists researching biofuels, with input from the SAPS team.
The Renewable World KS3 introduction to renewable resources, sustainability and consumer choice.
Syngenta interactive experiments In this online version of a classic experiment, students can investigate the rate of photosynthesis in Elodea. This also provides a handy guideline for things to think about while you work, such as the reliability of data.
Photosynthesis animation An animated illustration of photosynthesis.
How Plants Tell the Time An easy introduction to plants’ life-cycles and reaction to variation in day length, written by a plant scientist at the University of Cambridge.
The Vacuole Song A comic song produced in collaboration between cell biologists and musicians, a fun way to revise the parts of a cell
The Virtual Herbarium - Charles Sturt University This Virtual Herbarium from an Australian University allows viewing of high quality images and herbarium sheet information for all the specimens in their Herbarium. Includes a useful discussion of ‘floral formulae’- a shorthand for describing the structure of a flower.
Taxonomy and classification
Taxonomy and classification Three excellent resources for AS / A2 produced by the Linnean Society with student worksheets and teacher notes. These also includes PDF versions of posters for the classroom.
The New Green Revolution Videos and animations from the Society for General Microbiology, exploring the nitrogen cycle, nitrogen fixing bacteria and the role of mycorrizhal interactions
Evolution and adaptation
Map of Life An online tool from the University of Cambridge examining convergent evolution, including lots of different examples.
Plants are Cool Too! Episode 1: The Pale Pitcher Plant This enjoyable and informative video (13mins) examines the adaptations of carnivorous plants (Sarracenia alata), with two scientists out in the field. Includes a some great dissections of the pitchers, and discussions of the role of the bacteria in the liquid within the pitchers. Sponsored by the Botanical Society of America.
Arabidopsis Mutant Kit This free kit from the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre allows schools and students to explore genetics. Arabidopis mutants are used in research programmes throughout the world. With this kit, you too can exploit the rapid growth cycle of this plant and perform simple experiments to see mutants and demonstrate genetic inheritance. See how changing a single gene can bring about dramatic changes in the way that the plant appears.
General plant science resources
The Botany of Desire Based on the book and subsequent TV series 'The Botany of Desire' by Michael Pollan, this website takes a quirky look at the breeding and cultural history of four key plant crops: apples, tulips, the potato, marijuana. Well worth exploring!
Plant Cell Teaching Tools Published by the American Society of Plant Biologists, this is a collection of teaching resources based on contemporary plant science research, which can be used alone or integrated into lesson plans. Resources include a short essay introducing each topic, PowerPoint slides, and suggested readings.
Plant Evolution This online textbook introduces the evolution of plants, and would be useful for phylogenetics, palaeoecology, plant physiology and evolution.
The Science of Flowers Plant scientist Dr. Adam Dimech explains the science of flowering and the reasons why your plants will or won't flower, using this as a way of looking at key topics including circadian rhythms, plant hormones, genetics, and photoperiodicity
VCAC: Cellular Processes: Photosynthesis A brilliantly clear animation showing photosynthesis at about an A level standard, together with more detailed information on Photosystem II, as well as genetics and other biology.
The Calvin Experiments Animation showing the techniques used to discover the Calvin cycle and interpret the results.
A Green Light for Biology A video explaining the discovery of GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) and outlining how its use has revolutionised molecular biology.
Plant Sentinels This video from researchers at Colorado State University takes a lively look at the potential for bio-engineered plants to act as 'sentinels', alerting people to pollution and terrorist threats, before exploring how this biotechnology works Find out more about the work of the Medford lab and their work on synthetic biology.
Adventures in Synthetic Biology A comic from Nature and the MIT Synthetic Biology working group, introducing some of the issues and possibilities in synthetic biology
Decoding Synthetic Biology This video introduces synthetic biology and some of its powerful potential uses.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and its use in scientific research PCR, which amplifies short sections of DNA, is used in many areas of the biological sciences. One Liverpool University student chose to produce a video about PCR and its use in contemporary science. Working with staff at Sir John Deane’s Sixth Form College, Northwich, Cheshire and research staff from the University of Liverpool, he developed this short video. It starts with an animation of the steps in PCR (targeted at A-level requirements) and then shows how one scientist is using PCR in research into next-generation biofuels.
Food and agriculture
Golden Rice Project Home Page This web page introduces the topic of engineering rice with higher levels of vitamin A to help counter vitamin deficiencies in the developing world where rice is a staple food. Includes information on the GM aspect as well as the social/political issues surrounding it.
Why Farming Matters A campaign supporting farmers in the UK and and highlighting different roles (agricultural, biofuels, economic) that farming plays in our society
Terminator Plant scientist Dr Adam Dimech looks at the science behind genetic use restriction technology (GURT)
Plants In Motion An excellent series of time-lapse films showing processes in plant biology, including tropisms, germination, circadian responses and others.
YouTube - HuitemaLab's Channel Time lapse videos of infection from a plant science lab, which can be useful for plant pathology (Koch’s postulates etc).
Identify wildflowers online An online version of a field guide, with a form to fill in to help you identify wildflowers you have found. Has clear, concise entries describing a little about the phylogenetics and ecology of the plant.
WKU Biology Genetics Animation A demonstration of Mendelian genetics using corn to demonstrate single allele traits, which also introduces chi-squared tests.
Molecular Biology Notebook A 'Beginners' Guide' to molecular biology from the scientists at Rothamsted Research, covering topics including 'The Cell', 'Gene to Function' and 'Biotechnology'.
PlantingScience.org: fostering student research A US-based learning and research resource, which supports students in engaging in hands-on plant investigations with scientist mentors. Also includes useful ‘how to’ on safety, good practice, data collection/analysis etc.
Plants and science
The Great Plant Hunt. This excellent project from Kew and the Wellcome Trust introduces some basic plant science, including plant identification, botany and the process of science, including suggested experiments and some online games.
Ecology and biodiversity
Plants in Peril Primary school age resource for introducing and discussing biodiversity. Includes some suggestions of outdoor activities.
What's happening to our conker trees? A 'citizen science' experiment very suitable for primary and secondary schools. Researchers are collecting data on the invasion of the leaf-miner moth and possible predators. The project aims for sense of participation and an understanding of ‘hypothesis driven science’ and experimentation.
GROW Careers Information on careers around plants, both scientific and horticultural, including training information, job advertisements, and case studies.
Real Cool Futures - Eden Project Careers suggestions for 14-19 year olds from the Eden Project, with careers profiles from a wide variety of people whose job has an ecological twist.
Faces of Plant Cell Biology A collection of profiles of researchers working on different areas of plant cell biology.
The Hidden Science Map A map where scientists of all ages, disciplines and level of experience are encouraged to enter their experience, background and location. This project gives an unusual view on science careers across the UK.
Future Morph A careers advice site for young people (from 11-19) introducing a wide range of STEM careers, through case studies, interactive games and articles.
Ask a Biologist A chance to ask a group of scientists any question about biology that you can dream up.
Encyclopedia of Life A massive, highly comprehensive encyclopaedia of plant life which includes information on species ecology, conservation, history and physiology, and shows the phylogeny of plants.
SDSC Biology Workbench A web-based tool for biologists, allowing a search of databases for proteins/nucleic acids, and access to a wide variety of analysis and modelling tools. Requires users to register and use a password.
GeoNumbers An authoritative database of numbers (amounts, percentages, totals, etc) relating to ecology - from the annual amount of carbon fixed from carbon dioxide into organic form by land plants, to the percentage of oxygen in the oceans.
BioNumbers A database of commonly used and important numbers relating to biology.