Science is fun: School children exploring the world of Plant Biology
April 21, 2017
On 28th March 2017, the DISCO coordinator Prof. Paul Fraser opened his lab to a group of English year five primary school children, giving them a fun insight into the colorful world of Plant Science. Hands on experiments allowed the kids to explore the concept of reversible and irreversible changes, which form part of the year 5 national science curriculum in England. The children were introduced to separation methods such as filtration and evaporation, and techniques such as thin layer chromatography. Whilst they were producing their own colorful TLC strips by separating the pigments in felt tip pen inks, the applications of chromatography techniques and the importance of plant pigments in the natural world were explained. They also enjoyed the visual demonstration of the reversible color change that occurs when the water from bright blue, hydrated copper sulphate is evaporated to leave the white anhydrous powder, and then they rehydrated it back to the original bright blue. Having learnt about the changing state of materials through solid, liquid and gas phases they were also introduced to the concept of sublimation using dry ice. Finally, a delicious batch of “instant” ice cream was produced using liquid nitrogen. This would have been a demonstration of a reversible change had it not been consumed before it had time to thaw! The children were all thoroughly engaged with the activities and demonstrations throughout the visit and really enjoyed their little excursion into the world of science, not just the ice cream.