Science students at Wadham School have been selected to take part in a European research project. Commitment shown by the school’s science teacher Chris Farmer, in taking sixth form students to a conference at Bristol University in 2015, has led to Wadham being one of only three UK schools participating in Europe wide research into plant growth and disease. Maiden Beech Academy, who have a close association with Wadham School are also taking part in the study.
Dr Phil Smith from The Teacher Science Network, who is co-ordinating the school input into the research said: “The aim of the project is to help students understand the scientific process and contextualise their learning about genetics, plant disease, plant growth and data gathering, together with food security – and also to realise just how tricky it can be to grow our crops.” Dr Smith was very impressed with Mr Farmer’s enthusiasm for Wadham School taking part in the project. The Teacher Science Network organise a variety of activities geared towards bringing ‘real science’ into the classroom and are based at the world-leading microbial science research institute, The John Innes Centre in Norwich.
The project’s objective is to gain an insight into the distribution of brassica disease throughout Europe and to discover how each variety of plant responds to different climates. Students at Wadham and Maiden Beech were sent batches of seeds to plant, cultivate and monitor growth, together with any signs of disease. Five different varieties; mainly oilseed rape, which we see as swaths of yellow in local fields, are being monitored. There are twenty schools in total participating in the project, in countries as far afield as Spain, Italy, Romania and Poland. The project is named BAD GEIS, which stands for Brassica Adaption Disease Growth Environment In European Schools. It is the school engagement part of MAQBAT (Mechanical Analysis of Quantitative Disease Resistance Brassica by Associative Tran-scriptomics, which has recieved funding from the ERA initiative. Feedback on plant growth rates and their survival are shared between participating schools. At Wadham School, the plants are now ready to be planted outdoors.