This activity is designed to get students thinking about plants as living organisms that have to survive, reproduce and defend themselves against disease. Students begin by cataloguing the health of trees in the area, and can then follow this with a statistical investigation, as suitable for your location and the time of year.
It fits with the new A-level ecology units, particularly within the OCR new plant communicable disease topic. The resource raises awareness of using plant diseases as a tool to practise statistical tests. It would be a useful field activity to encourage students to think about appropriate sampling methods.
In addition, the new 2016 science GCSE specifications (currently in draft) include the study of communicable plant disease. The opening activity would be a good starting point to raise GCSE student's awareness of plant disease.
This practical was devised by Julie Bourne of King Edward VII School, Sheffield, after attending the SAPS Gatsby Plant Summer School in July 2013, funded by an ENTHUSE Award.