This collection of resources introduces 14-16 students to the world of plant disease in a lively and engaging way. They include practicals and classroom activities to get your students thinking about plants as living organisms, with their own defences against the threat of invading pathogens.
Ideas about communicable diseases in plants are included in the updated programmes of study for Key Stage 4 science published in December 2014. These ideas will be included in GCSE Science courses from 2016 (for first assessment in summer 2018). Some of these resources were developed specifically with GCSE Science in mind, but we hope they will all prove useful to teachers covering this intriguing and important topic.
The poster ‘The Never-Ending Battle for Fortress Plant’ illustrates ideas about plant defences against pathogens. It depicts the plant as a fortress which is defended against invading pathogens. The poster is accompanied by a presentation and activity sheet, which can be used as a step-by-step walk-through of the ideas in the poster.
In this activity, students act as detectives, piecing together information from the sources provided to identify common plant diseases, including the type of pathogen causing it, ways in which the disease is spread, and how to stop the spread.
In this practical and data analysis activity students collect samples of leaves showing samples of infection with powdery mildew; the samples can be sent for analysis as part of the Powdery Mildew Survey citizen science project.
In this practical activity, students explore how the technique of re-infection (using infected material to infect healthy plant tissue) can help to identify the cause of a plant disease.
In this practical activity, students use magnification to examine leaves showing symptoms of a common plant disease, and produce labelled drawings of the fungal spores.
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.
In this resource, students take on the role of plant pathologists, asking questions to determine the cause of a tree's death, and deciding which tests should be carried out. The teacher will play the role of the landowner, and answer the students' questions. The activity concludes with group questions to understand more about this disease, how diseases are spread, and what can be done to contain them.
In this worksheet and case study, for post-16 students, students develop their understanding of communicable plant disease and how plants respond to infection. This activity is particularly directed at post-16 students studying A-level biology, but will be of use for all post-16 teaching on plant disease. It addresses the plant related learning outcomes in the OCR Biology A specification, section 4.1.1 ‘communicable diseases, disease prevention and the immune system’.
(Image credit: Walter A Aue)