Dr Colette Matthewman, project manager of OpenPlant, Norwich, worked with writer Mike O'Driscoll and artist Chris Hann to design and deliver a brand new SAW project with a year 5 class at Ludham Primary School. SAW projects extend science learning into poetry and art, inviting children to generate personal responses to the science concepts where they discover new perspectives of the world and broaden their horizons.
Children got hands-on with DNA extraction, played a game to learn Mendel's Laws of Inheritance and were shown how model plants such as the simple liverwort Marchantia enable scientists to study traits that are found in more complex plant species.
The poetry session produced some excellent work that reflected the children's understanding of the link between DNA and genetic differences. The children learned about root nodules during the science session and so the art used these structures as a starting point for work with oil pastels, glue, salt and colour pigments. Root nodules are specialised structures produced as a result of a symbiosis between certain plant species and bacteria in the soil that enable the plant to fix atmospheric nitrogen, giving plants a significant advantage in nitrogen poor soils.