The scheme started on home soil in the schools around York, where staff from the University’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) took microscopes into primary classrooms and encouraged the children to create artwork based on what they saw.
Before long, staff had been approached by Illovo Sugar, which owns plantations in Tanzania, suggesting that a similar project might benefit Tanzanian schoolchildren.
In the new scheme, volunteers are supplied by Gap Activity Projects, a UK charity which arranges placements for young people, and CNAP staff in the Department of Biology train them as workshop leaders before they travel out to Africa.
Nicola Smith, Schools Officer at CNAP who has just returned from a visit to the project, said: “Schools in Tanzania present rather different challenges from working with York school students. One big problem is simply explaining the concept of ‘magnification’ to a class of upwards of 60 kids whose first language is Swahili.”
Instead of using microscopes immediately volunteers now start with ordinary handheld magnifying glasses – which are themselves a novelty for the children – before introducing the more advanced equipment.
Dr Caroline Calvert, CNAP Outreach Manager, added: “We do our best to encourage creativity. Once the children have had the close-up view of a leaf or an insect, the volunteers get them to paint, draw or model what they saw. At the end of the day, they get to take home what they’ve created – which always goes down well!”
A free exhibition about the project with photographs, children’s artwork and other resources will be on show at the York Festival of Science in York Mansion House every weekday from 12 – 2pm.
David Garner | alfa
Starting school boosts development
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New Master’s programme: University of Kaiserslautern educates experts in quantum technology
15.03.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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