School project for secondary I (5th to 7th grade)

The invisible power of plants

How can plants feed us? How do they produce nutrients and what do they need to do that? How does photosynthesis work? What are microbes, and what do they do? Are they friends or foes?
The answers to these questions and more are provided by our Baylab project called “The invisible power of plants.” It is open to all students in school grades 5 to 7.

  • Leaf analysis: which leaves produce nutrients?
  • Studies using a model: how do plants breathe? How does air get into the leaf?
Leaf analysis: which leaves produce nutrients?

What is taught?
In a variety of experiments, you’ll practice measuring and mixing liquids, dissolving solids and using sensors. You’ll also learn all about detection reactions using plant constituents. Models and microscope slides will help you to understand leaf structures. You will take smears and prepare cultures to derive conclusions about where microorganisms can be found. We will guide you through the evaluation of small test series as an introduction to scientific work methods.

The project builds upon 5th and 6th grade biology and mathematics and uses this knowledge base to provide a first taste of 7th grade chemistry.

How will the day unfold at the Baylab?
The day at the Baylab begins at 9.15 a.m. After a brief introduction to the topic of “Plants and nutrition”, the practical part will begin. Lab coats and protective glasses will be provided by Bayer. Following a safety talk and an explanation of the equipment and methods, you can start experimenting in accordance with the project supervisors’ instructions.

First of all, you will carry out an experiment on chemical detection reactions by testing a variety of reagents to find a color indicator for starch. Then you will analyze different leaves and parts of leaves to draw conclusions about photosynthesis. These investigations will be supplemented by a three-dimensional leaf model and microscope stations. At two measuring stations, you will use gas sensors to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations in various systems. The results will be discussed together. The experiments will give you information on the process of photosynthesis, but also show up potential weak points in the plants.

There will be a breakfast break at about 11 a.m., followed by some information on microorganisms with a discussion of the interactions between microbes and plants. For the subsequent experiments, microscope slides of fungi and bacteria will be provided at the stations along with cultures from smears. Once you have found a detection reagent for carbon dioxide, a fermentation reaction will be carried out and gas formation will be verified. The results will be evaluated and discussed.

You will then have the opportunity to discover other areas at Bayer. The project will end at around 1.30 p.m.

Focus on teamwork
All of the projects in the Baylab are focused on teamwork. The Baylab can accommodate around 30 students. You will be split up into several small groups and receive instructions for the experiments so that you can work on your own. The teams will evaluate the experiments themselves before discussing and comparing their results with the other groups.

The complete project work will be carried out under the professional instruction of specially trained project supervisors.

You can register by telephone at +49 (0)214 / 30-65796.

Appointments for Baylab for February until July 2016 are fully booked. Appointments for Baylab for August 2016 until January 2017 will be available by phone from Monday, 6th of June 2016; from 8 a.m.