Report by Geraint Parry.
On May 16th the World Museum in Liverpool hosted its third Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) in collaboration with scientists and educators from the University of Liverpool.
The organisation of an indoor event is one of the few reasons to hope for a rainy day but sadly it was nice and sunny in Liverpool! Nevertheless about 500 visitors passed through the exhibition, each spending at least 20 minutes learning about many aspects of plant science.
Everyone likes a free gift so the exhibit from Ness Botanic Gardens was very popular! Rose Froud and Andrew Lambie showing visitors of all ages how to make pots out of newspaper and then helped them plant either sunflowers or runner beans!
Dr Geraldine Reid from the Museums botany department set up a microscope where the visitors were challenged to try and find locally discovered new Diatom varieties.
Elsewhere techniques of plant science ancient and modern collided as dried and mounted specimens from the botanical collections were situated alongside a DNA sequencer that University of Liverpool researchers had used to sequence the wheat genome. This machine has recently been donated to the museum for future exhibitions and formed the second-stage of an exhibit that allowed (mostly) kids to extract strawberry DNA and then ‘load’ it onto the sequencer! Rumours are unfounded that this is the start of octoploid Strawberry Genome Project…… The group from UoL was led by Dr Geraint Parry and Professor Anthony Hall, ably helped by members the Life Science Outreach team.
Overall it was extremely gratifying to see plenty of smiling faces leaving the exhibition clutching their DNA extractions and temporary plant pots!! Hopefully they’ll be back again next year!