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9 Jun 2017

News: The CRAG sets up the “Mutant plants” workshop for school children

Friday May 19th marked the end of the first phase of the “Mutant plants” project, which consists of the design of an experimental workshop for elementary students at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG).


The first phase of this project, aimed at promoting creativity and scientific vocations, included both the design of the experimental workshop and the execution of two pilot tests with the two fifth grade groups of the Joan Maragall elementary school in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona). The design of the workshop was possible thanks to the collaboration between the CRAG staff, the schoolteachers and the Centre for Research in Scientific and Mathematical Education (CRECIM) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).


The two pilot workshops were held consecutively on 18th and 19th May, within the context of the fourth International Fascination of Plants Day, coordinated by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO). In the first part of the workshop, the students recognised different model plants that are used at the CRAG. Afterwards, in video format, the ICREA research professors at the CRAG, Jaume Martínez and Soraya Pelaz, presented a scientific challenge to the children: they had to identify the mutant plants of all those present in a Petri dish!


The use of laboratory coats, stereo microscopes, in vitro cultured plants and laboratory notebooks, specially designed to make the most of the experience, created an ideal environment for the students to test their observation, analysis and teamwork skills, in addition to using their creativity to find possible applications for mutant plants. To complement the workshop, the morning ended with a tour at the facilities guided by CRAG researchers.


This activity was very enriching both for the participating students and for the CRAG researchers who intervened in the development and the execution of the workshop. The researchers could see how the students worked as real scientists, making their own hypotheses and reaching consensus conclusions.


The project is now in its review and proposal for improvements phase, after which the workshop will be presented in its final format to different school groups at the 22nd Science Week, which will take place from 10th to 19th November 2017. The two pilot tests were filmed and these images will be used to prepare a video that will be usedtopromote the activity.


The “Mutant plants” project has been funded by the “Convocatoria de Ayudas para el Fomento de la Cultura Científica, Tecnológica y de la Innovación” of the “Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología” (FCT-16-10825) and by the distinction “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2016-2019” (SEV-2015-0533) granted to the CRAG, both granted by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.


Link to the photos of the pilot workshop “Mutant Plants”