Welcome to the latest edition of the Science and Plants for Schools newsletter – and a particular welcome to all those of you who we met at the ASE Annual Conference.
Our January newsletter is packed full of fully-funded CPD opportunities and free teaching resources, plus the chance to win a tea break for your science department every month this year.
We've got a new animation on xylem and phloem, a new post-16 resource on gravitropism, the latest in our series of 'how to' practical videos, plus news on the crucial role of teachers in 21st century science. It's also the last chance to request your free poster on epigenetics.
So don't forget to send this newsletter on to your colleagues, or to print off a copy for the prep-room wall.
New animation for GCSE and post-16 - Plant Transport
We're delighted to launch the first in our new series of animations on key topics in plant biology - covering plant transport in xylem and phloem.
Animations are one of the resources that you, our SAPS Associates, have requested in our regular surveys, so we're particularly pleased to be able to add them to the site now.
We've worked with experienced teacher Richard Needham and with the Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University to make sure that these animations are as accurate as possible, and that they contain all the material needed for teaching the topics at GCSE and post-16. We'll be adding teaching notes shortly.
This is the first animation we've developed, so please do send in your feedback.
New post-16 resource - Gravitropism and the Role of Roots
This resource looks at root growth, with a focus on gravitropism. Roots are the hidden half of a plant, but they are responsible for providing the plant with all the water and minerals they need to grow. Understanding roots better can help scientists breed crops that use fertiliser more efficiently, and which can cope with either drought or water-logging. This research could be particularly important for small farmers in the developing world, especially as climate change affects their growing conditions.
This experiment using agar plates and white mustard seeds allows students to visualise the development of roots, their root hair cells, observe the zones of elongation and differentiation and illustrates gravitropism very effectively in roots. Students can then extend their investigations to observe the effect of an obstruction in the path of the roots, visualise the xylem in roots using food dye, and observe gravitropism in the roots.
This resource was developed by teacher Iona Martin, after hearing a lecture by Professor Malcolm Bennett on “What happens below ground? A multidisciplinary approach to Root Biology”, at the Plant Science Summer School. If you'd like the opportunity to take part in this wonderful CPD opportunity, take a look below.
View the resource
New video - Investigating transpiration and stomata
If you've not already tried out this useful practical for looking at transpiration via leaf surface temperature, take a look at this short 'how to' video and see just how easy it is.
Watch the video demo - investigating transpiration and stomata
View the resource
Tea's on us! Win a tea break for your department
We're celebrating science departments up and down the country, with our new 'tea's on us' scheme.
Our December winners were Lingfield Notre Dame School, who wrote in to tell us about their A-level journal club, who very much enjoyed reading our recent article on C4 rice. Apparently it resulted in a lively discussion, as well as a much better understanding of photosynthesis.
And January's winners are the technicians of Waseley Hills High School, Birmingham. It's an apparently simple activity, but always a popular one - their students love taking cuttings from geraniums, returning after many weeks to collect up their own personal rooted cutting from the prep room.
To win your own 'Tea's on us' kit (tea, coffee and a box of delicious chocolate biscuits), just let us know which your students' favourite plant biology lesson.
We'll pull one winner out of the hat each month. Sorry to our overseas readers, but due to cost of postage, this is available for UK schools only.
Teachers crucial for UK plant science
The world faces great challenges in the 21st century - food security, biodiversity, global health and climate change. Plant science will play a major role in finding many of the potential solutions. But a new report shows that the UK will only be able to respond to these challenges if teachers and lecturers are supported in inspiring the next generation of plant scientists.
"Plant scientists have a vital role in developing better food and non-food production systems, biodiversity management and conservation of the natural environment."
The UK is internationally recognised as a leader in the field of plant science, contributing to a range of key industries including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, forestry and industrial biotechnology. However, a recent report from the UK's Plant Science Federation (UKPSF) concluded that more needs to be done to engage school students about the roles they could play as plant scientists in ensuring healthy food for all and environmental stability for the planet. Skills were particularly in demand in areas such as plant identification, plant pathology and plant physiology.
We hope that the teaching resources available on the SAPS website, developed by talented teachers from across the UK, will continue to inspire young biologists to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.
But you can also find some great examples in the UKPSF report of recent discoveries and inventions in UK plant science, from ‘super broccoli’ to plant-produced vaccines to disease-resistant wheat. Download it here
Last chance to request your free Epigenetics poster
We're giving away another brilliant poster for post-16 biology students - this one on the emerging science of epigenetics. If you haven't already filled in the request form, this is your last chance.
(Sorry - because of postage costs, this offer is for UK schools only.)
Inspiring contemporary CPD opportunity - Plant Science Summer School
Once again, the Plant Science Summer School will be offering inspiring CPD for post-16 biology teachers. This is your chance to hear some of the UK's leading scientists talk about their work, take part in inspiring practicals and exchange ideas with colleagues, all funded by a generous ENTHUSE bursary for eligible schools. The photos above give a taste of the type of practicals and activities you'd be taking part in.
Dates are yet to be confirmed, but will be during the first week of July.
Find out more
Best wishes for the Spring term
The Administratort, Dan Jenkins and Ginny Page