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Plants - looking at germination, their structure and how they produce energy by photosynthesis
Useful information
Kit List: 

*Needs significant preparation in the days running up to the event*

  • Beansprouts in plastic containers, germinated prior to event, under different conditions (e.g. light/dark/water/no water/warm/cold)
  • Magnifying boxes
  • Microscope and slides showing section through plant leaves, stem, stomata, germinating seed

Ideas to explain:

For younger children

- Talk about what plants need to grow (water, warmth, light)
- Look at sequence of development i.e. seed, beansprout, small plant, larger plant, bigger plants flower and produce seeds (life cycle)
- Plants need light to produce energy - they don't eat like animals do (avoid using the term 'photosynthesis' with small children)
- Might want to look at plant cells in the microscope. They have a cell wall, so have a rigid shape, unlike animal cells. Green because of the pigment (chlorophyll) that they use to produce energy from light.


Older children

- More detail on the different events happening in early plant development

- More detail on photosynthesis i.e. carbon dioxide converted into sugars, and oxygen is produced (the opposite idea to respiration)
- Gas exchange (Carbon dioxide for oxygen) happens through pores on the underside of leaves called stomata (you should be able to see these on one of the slides - see below).
- Light is absorbed by the green pigment (chlorophyll) in the leaves
- Plants have to transport sugars made in the leaves to other parts of the plant - this happens in the phloem (visible on slides)
- Water is transported from the roots in xylem (visible on slides - see below)

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Sun, 20/01/2019
Risk assesment checked by: 
Matt Worssam
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Mon, 21/01/2019
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Risk Assessment: 

Looking at plants with and without a microscope.

Hazard Risk Likelihood Severity Overall Mitigation Likelihood Severity Overall
Microscope Electrical hazard (microscope), especially near sources of water. 2 4 8 See separate electrical parts risk assessment, keep microscope away from water as it is not required for this experiment.
In case of injury, call first aider.
1 4 4
Thin glass slides Using thin glass slide could result in broken glass with risk of cuts. 2 3 6 If slides are broken, carefully collect/sweep up broken pieces, wrap in paper and dispose of carefully.
In case of injury, call a first aider.
1 3 3
Microscope light fitting The light fitting under the microscope becomes hot, and could cause burns. 3 3 9 Warn children to be careful, turn off lamp when not in use, if it's getting hot put a cardboard shield around (but not touching) the lamp to prevent accidental contact.
In case of accident, call a first aider and encourage children to run burns under cold water for 10 minutes.
2 2 4
Specimens Possible allergic reaction to seeds/plants/soil/leaf specimens. 1 3 3 Ask parents if child is allergic to the plant we are using before beginning the demonstration. In case of adverse reaction, call a first aider. 1 3 3
Seedling jars Injury from dropping seedling jars/plants. 2 2 4 Have seedlings in plastic container, and use plastic plant pots. In case of injury, call a first aider. 1 1 1
Electrical cables Trip hazard from microscope cable/extension cord. 3 3 9 Avoid setting up so wires are in a walkway, tape down cables. In case of injury, call a first aider. 2 3 6
This experiment contains mains electrical parts, see separate risk assessment.
Experiment photos: