OpenPlant Science, Art and Writing Workshop a success

Year 6 pupils at Stapleford Community Primary School (South Cambs) enjoyed an OpenPlant ­ Science, Art and Writing Trust day workshop at the end of January. Scientists Dr. Carlos A Lugo (TSL) and Marielle Vigouroux (JIC), together with SAW Trust coordinator, Dr. Jenni Rant (JIC), artist Chris Hann and writer Mike O’Driscoll, presented their OpenPlant Fund plant electrophysiology project through a series of activities themed around excitable media and circuits of plants, linking them to biological systems like the brain, heart and muscle.

The pupils used the Plant SpikerShield system wired up to a Venus flytrap plant and observed the signal when the trap closed. They also had fun working out the optimum time lapse between trigger hair taps for the trap to shut, flexed their muscles to light a bulb, listened to their heartbeat and tested brain signalling with Chinese whispers. With the invaluable help from a professional writer and artist, children were inspired by the science to write some amazing poems and create fantastic pieces of art. The children were very receptive, everyone had lots of fun and the feedback was incredibly positive. A big thank you to Ms Emma Wright, the year 6 teacher, for her warm welcome and her enthusiasm towards the project!

Comments from the kids;

‘In Science, I really enjoyed the reflex activity where we did Chinese whispers and were shining lights into our eyes to see how they react. Also, the venus fly trap was incredible, the way it would close if something tickles the hair inside’.

‘I enjoyed doing the science where I had sensors stuck to my arm, then I would tense my muscles to make the lights go red’.

‘I enjoyed the images of neurons and recreating them with dye, the result was rather satisfying. It was also fun doing the poetry’.

A comment from the teacher, Emma Wright;

The SAW day was fantastic. Throughout the day the children were all engaged with the variety of activities. The children also learnt a lot from the subject specialists that showed their subjects in a new light. Equally the children and teachers alike picked up hints and tips that could be used in the classroom again. I would highly recommend this for anyone.

Poems written in the workshop;


by Ben

Icy, sapphire neurons racing around colliding,

Whispering Venus fly traps with dagger-like hairs,

Spearing out jaggedly.

A stampede of colours like two universes amalgamating,

A heartbeat,

Boom…..boom boom…….boom boom,

A vortex of multicolour zooms around in an oyster shape,

A scene of Africa with a paisley pattern confuses the brain.



by Elijah

Pumping message swirling

Across rainbow chaos,

Pumping high to low,


X-ray signal making waves,

Tubes linking, waving sea into my brain.