Looking good now
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
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Training the trainers

Twenty people who shape the way that plant science is taught in the classroom joined Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS) for two days recently in the impressive surroundings of the Sainsbury Laboratory and the Botanic Garden.
Aimed at PGCE biology tutors and others involved in teacher training, ‘Train the Trainer’ highlighted a wide range of new plant science based practicals and online resources suitable for secondary school use.

Over the course of two days, participants experienced 18 different practicals for themselves using the Lab’s facilities and standard school science equipment provided by nearby Netherhall School, proving that the practicals were replicable without requiring the resources of a world class research laboratory and an expert team of horticulturalists!

As the delegates cloned cauliflowers, looked at pollen under microscopes and made balls of photosynthetic algae, they had the chance to ask questions of the scientists and teachers who developed the practicals, share best practice with each other and discuss recent changes to the science curriculum. Dr Judy Fox of the Botanic Garden’s Education Team spoke about the role of Botanic Gardens in science education, and led the group on a tour which contrasted the garden’s origins in John Henslow’s research with its present day role.

After excellent refreshments at the Garden Cafe, new developments in plant research were highlighted by a fascinating talk from Dr Beverly Glover of the Department of Plant Sciences.

The aim of this event was to give PGCE biology tutors new ideas, new resources, confidence and practice in teaching plant science. Feedback praised everything from the utility and viability of the practicals, to the inspirational setting of the Lab and Garden, to the quality of the food and the insights offered by the evening lecture. Delegates described the event as “totally inspirational” with “lots and lots of brilliant ideas”.

The SAPS team hopes that this will be the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with PGCE tutors across the country, and will encourage a new generation of teachers to love teaching with plants.
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