Glowing Plants at School
In February, we supported the science week of a German primary school with some exciting experiments and insights on plants and their importance to humans.
Plants can glow?! The pupils of the German primary school Ludgerusschule in Essen-Werden found this very hard to believe. Almost as mind-boggling was the realisation that mixing light of all colours produces white light. A whole day of their special science week was dedicated to understanding why plants glow and how this is relevant for humans.
After a lesson on colour theory and a reflection on the factors that plants need in order to grow, the children were astonished and thrilled to finally see the red glow of plants with the blue LED torches and special filter spectacles provided by IBG-2 (Forschungszentrum Jülich). Using this magical trick, they had great fun distinguishing real from fake plants that seemed identical to the naked eye. “This was the best project of the whole week,” said nine-year-old Saskia.
The pupils were amazed that researchers measure the glow of plants by flying drones over fields to learn how the plants are doing. But why do researchers want to know this? Watching a short movie produced by EMPHASIS the children learned about the detrimental effects climate change can have on global food supplies and how important it is for researchers to find out which plants can grow best in different climates.
Notably, the pupils had not been aware of the importance of plants for humans. They did know that animals eat plants; they also knew that people appreciate ornamental plants in their homes. However, they did not realise that humans need plants as a source of nutrients, because they had not categorised fruit, vegetables and grain as plants.