Sowing the seeds

Lauren Heather

Last week I attended Grantham's very own science fair - Gravity Fields.

For their #LoveLincsPlants project, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust were invited to exhibit at the Gravity Fields science fair in Grantham. Lincolnshire has a long history with the study of botany as it was home to one of the earliest botanists, Sir Joseph Banks, who became president of the Royal Society in 1778 having previously been on expeditions with contemporary explorers including Captain James Cook.

The Love Lincs Plant project are working to preserve Lincolnshire’s botanical heritage and this includes working with the National History Museum to curate over 9,000 historic plant specimens from Lincolnshire. Another of their responsibilities is to provide botanical information and education to the public and in particular trying to inspire the next generation of botanists.

A dandelion head is made up of hundreds of florets, each one being an individual flower.

The science fair took over the town and we were based in a church with a team from Durham University who were searching for dark matter, another team looking to discover more about gravitational waves and a man who made incredible shapes out of glass.

The fair was open to the public but during the week several local schools visited and we were able to talk to the students about some of Lincolnshire’s native plants as well as some of the reasons for preserving a diverse range of species.

Handmade flower

3D model of a plant

As part of our display we (predominantly our resident experts Kev and Mark) were able to show the students a human-sized, 3D model of a plant so that they could see, amongst other things, both the stamen and carpel (male and female parts). They could then follow the journey of the pollen to fertilise the ova, creating the new seeds.

Close up of a dandelion

Dandelion floret 

Included in our display were some macro lenses that could be attached to mobile phones so that we were able to take incredible close up pictures with our smartphone cameras. This enabled the students (and me) to see how a plant measured up to the model and the differences between plants.

One of my take-home facts of the day was that a dandelion head was made up of hundreds of florets, each one being an individual flower.

Plants really are amazing!

Doug