On March 26th CEBAS-CSIC, the coordinating partner of the European Project ROOTOPOWER, organized an educational workshop in the Primary School ‘Maristas’, Murcia (Spain). With this activity, young students were able to put themselves in the shoes a scientist and learn how science can help to improve our lives.
ROOTOPOWER (www.rootopower.eu), a Knowledge Based Bio-Economy project funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union (grant #289365), is innovating in the field of root-science research in Europe. Its consortium, made up of 13 partners from countries such as Spain, United Kingdom, Germany or Turkey, gathers top research scientists from a wide array of root-related fields.
As part of its dissemination plan, CEBAS-CSIC (Murcia, Spain), the coordinating partner of this project, has recently organised and held a one-day workshop geared towards students attending the Bilingual Primary School ‘Maristas’ in Murcia. With this activity, we intended to provide a better understanding of root-targeted strategies to minimize abiotic stress impacts on horticultural crops and to increase the education of the general public and schoolchildren on the field.
Early education needs to be creative and adaptive in order to motivate children and keep their attention. With this in mind, CEBAS-CSIC tried to draw up a programme combining both theoretical knowledge and practical aspects. The first half of the workshop consisted in a presentation entitled ‘The World of Plants’ in which topics such as the life cycle, parts and functions of plants; the photosynthesis; or the role of scientists were dealt with. This presentation included a time lapse video showing the difference in scion growth of two grafted plants. In order to highlight the importance of roots and the use of grafting as the primary rootstock-evaluation method, the second half of the workshop focused on showing children how to graft tomato plants. They were also able to see the roots of different species cultivated hydroponically, plants subject to different stresses and blue tomato plants.
The workshop was very successful and participants actively collaborated in the activities. As children were bilingual in English and Spanish, the workshop was taught mainly in English. Therefore, we fulfilled a dual purpose: reinforcing their language skills in English and teaching science in a fun way. For the design of the workshop educational material, the useful resources available at the ASPB webpage (K-12 Resources) were used and different ASPB bookmarks were handed in to children. We really hope that this article encourages other scientific institutions to organize such inspiring and educational activities!