To celebrate Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) in New York, members of the Ware Lab (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) brought a little amazement to the young and bright minds of kindergarteners at Bayville Primary School, as well as to a number of children from various elementary schools in the Locust Valley area who are members of the Grenville Baker Boys and Girls Club’s Science Club.
With the support of teachers and instructors from both, the school and the club, Dr. Marcela Karey Tello-Ruiz conducted hands-on sessions where the children learned fascinating facts about plants in our everyday lives!
Each session began with a slide show with interesting pictures depicting some of the largest and some of the tinniest plants in the world.
Through grains presented in small containers and vivid pictures, children traced back the origin of their favorite breakfast cereals to corn, wheat and rice fields! We love sugar and everyone had the opportunity to feel, smell and some even chew the source of most of our table sugar — a fresh sugar cane… This was a first even for some teachers!
By passing around cocoa and vanilla beans, we learned that favorite ice cream flavors like chocolate and vanilla actually come from seeds! To reinforce this concept, the children were shown pictures of a “chocolate tree” and the “chocolate fruit” from where the “chocolate seeds” (cocoa beans) are collected.
Other demo items (i.e., coming from plants) included books, notebooks, pencils, utensils, clothes, shoes (fabric or rubber soles), handbags, toiletries, wooden toys, a soccer ball (rubber), a bow, medicine (aspirin), etc. Other live specimens for the children to explore included an aloe vera plant and a Venus fly trap (which we fed fruit flies)!
The session at the Boys and Girls Club concluded with the slightly older kids watching the introductory part (first 5 minutes) of the “Secrets of Plant Genomes Revealed!” video featured in the National Science Foundation website.
In addition, Dr. Doreen Ware and Dr. Joshua Stein conducted an online webinar on rice data and resources available in the Gramene database. This presentation is available from the Gramene YouTube channel.
A total of 951 events were organized in 63 countries to celebrate FoPD. To Gramene’s credit, of 15 FoPD events in the United States of America (view ASPB map here), Gramene organized three of them locally in New York.