Sci-Seedlets - Plant science education-through-play

Royal Society Public Engagement Funding

From the creators of ‘StomaToys’ (2018-20) the project ‘Sci-Seedlets’ will develop resources for plant science education-through-play. The Sci-seedlets team is an eclectic mix of plant scientists from the University of Glasgow specialising in plant cell-biology, plant physiology cell and engineering, computer scientists specialising in human-computer-interactions from University of Lancaster as well as non-scientist members-of-public. 

In the current COVID environment, where parents/carers are sharing responsibility for children’s education world-wide, Sci-seedlets will  provide easy-to-access web-based educational tools that are accessible from home and for teachers to help nurture wider interest in plant sciences and STEM research by giving a feel of the scientific process. Delivering focused experiences as 'tasters' into plant research, Sci-seedlets will make the public audiences aware of the importance of work that plant scientists do in the community. 

Sci-Seedlets are informed by Royal Society and BBSRC funded research in Karnik lab to address the overarching question, 'How do plants grow?' This research contributes to fundamental understanding of plant physiology and feeds into future crop-improvement strategies for global food security. Sci-seedlets formats are planned to integrate diversity to reach users from a variety of age-groups, especially school children 3-15 years and also adult non-scientist audiences. 

Sci-seedlets will include five formats –

1. Paper-based play seedlets for print-colour-build using cut-paper art.

2. Activity card seedlets for ‘being a scientist’ tasters by do-at-home experiments and scientific data analysis.

3. Virtual reality (VR) mixed reality seedlets in the form of interactive ‘serious games’.

4. Augmented reality (AR) mixed reality seedlets designed as plant-science activities.

5. Tangible seedlets designed as puzzle-based toys for sensory play. 

Each format will educate-through-play, a scientific concept, e.g. structure of stomata or the role of ion-transport enzymes in cell expansion. By employing easily accessible materials found in most households, Sci-seedlets are designed to reach global audiences beyond cost and technology-access barriers. The team will be recruiting student volunteers and an intern for Sci-seedlets web page design. Project updates will be posted on Twitter @SSeedlets

First published: 7 June 2021