Plant Doctors head north to Inspirations, York!

02 Jul 2014

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Written by Katie Tomlinson (BSPP Outreach Officer).

On the 26th June we ran our first ever outreach event in the North of England at the Inspirations Education Showcase Event, near York.

The Inspirations event is aimed at young people aged 11-19, who come along to showcase their own projects. It was fantastic to see such a wide range of projects: from an experiment showing how different drinks can corrode eggshells to a solar powered boat.

It all took place in the Yorkshire Air Museum, which meant we were in a massive hanger surrounded by lots of World War 2 planes, even the toilets were in a bunker!

We ran our Plant Doctor activity with rust-infected bean plants, tobacco plants with tobacco mosaic virus and forsythia branches with crown galls. Students were interested to learn about different plant diseases and many said they weren't aware of plant pathogens.

We also ran the new Save our Plants debate activity and had several interesting conversations with students about some of the benefits and drawbacks of using different plant disease control methods. I met one 13-year old student who really impressed me with his knowledge of molecular biology. We had a fantastic conversation about ice forming proteins on the surface of some bacteria.

We also met people from other organisations that we'd really like to stay in touch with. For example, it was great to meet Sarah Owen-Hughes from Askham Bryan College, who runs their horticulture course. She and her students were running an activity looking at plant diseases; this was a brilliant project and it complemented our activities.

At the end of the event, while students were being judged for their projects, we had the opportunity to play around with a visual illusion (see photos here).

We had a great day and I would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers:

  • The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA): Dr Paul Beales, Stacy Wearmouth and Aiga Ozolina.
  • University of York: Poppy Marriott.
  • University of Edinburgh: Minghui Yin (BSPP Outreach Intern).
Also a big thanks to North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership (NYBEP) for organising such a great event!

Aiga Ozolina (volunteer, FERA) said: 'There were several ways to go about the activities, the level could be easily adjusted to the person we were talking to.'

Stacy Wearmouth (volunteer, FERA) said: 'The knowledge of the students varied, very impressed by what some of the students knew and some good questions were asked.'