In the context of this year’s international Fascination of Plants Day 130 primary school children of the 3rd and 4th grade had the opportunity to experience “academic atmosphere” and get first-hand knowledge of the superhero plant.
On May 17 130 primary school children from four different schools visited Heinrich Heine University to participate in an interactive program with the topic: Plants have superpowers.” The offer was organized by CEPLAS and the Institute for Quantitative and Theoretical Biology (Oliver Ebenhöh). The main focus of the day was to stimulate enthusiasm for plants.
The young visitors enthusiastically participated in the interactive lecture and many of them were visibly impressed by the atmosphere in the lecture hall. In some questions, for example which plants are important for our diet, the children could introduce their knowledge. Of course, the fact that French fries are made from potatoes and ketchup from tomatoes, was known to almost everybody.
But that one can also make fuel from plants or build complete houses was new to many of them. However, the focus was of course on the plants’ superpowers, and who would have known before that plants can actually glow, breathe and move?
After the lecture, the children could themselves act as researchers and thus see with their own eyes how plants glow, what makes them green and find out which foods contain starch.
A new experience was also looking through a microscope to see plant roots and their “friends”, the microbes. At a guided tour at the botanical garden the children got to know some special plants and could try to scent some plants that are used in the kitchen.
At the end of the event, the children were clearly proud of their completed researcher’s passport where they got a stamp at each research station. And for all who couldn’t get enough of researching, they received a flyer with experiments to do at home. Not only the children, but also the scientists of the Universities Düsseldorf and Cologne who were responsible for the implementation of the program participated enthusiastically and enjoyed the children’s interest and curiosity.
The Fascination of Plants Day is organized every two years by the European Organisation of Plants Sciences (EPSO). The goal of this activity is to get as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science for agriculture and sustainable production of nutritious food, as well as for horticulture, forestry and the production of plant-based non-food products such as paper, timber, chemicals, energy and pharmaceuticals.
Photos: Steffen Köhler