Last weekend we visited Festival of Science at Wakehurst, which was so epic I’ve had to break it up into more than one post. Here’s the second part.
For the first time, children under 10 were allowed to visit the underground vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank as part of a limited number of guided tours. We were really excited to get a place on one of the tours.
Our excellent guides took us through some of the laboratories to see where seed arrived and was stored and gave us a hands on guide to some very special seeds, including a huge coco de mer seed. Then we headed down to the vault, home to a mind boggling number of seeds from all over the world.
After this tour, we queued for the very popular seed cleaning activity in another laboratory. The kids were kitted out with lab
coats that were so long the boys looked like science wizards.
The first activity was to use fantastic viewing microscopes to look at a selection of some very photogenic seeds and use a tick sheet to identify them all.
Then round to the x-ray machine where a scientist asked them to choose a sample to image. The machine is usually used to check whether seed is viable or damaged, but the boys were offered a large selection of other samples to look at too, including a box of common lizards (found dead on site, no critters were hurt in the making of this x-ray).
Finally a space became available at the seed cleaning station, where the boys were talked through a process of sorting seeds from waste material by sieving, and then given samples to sort. The final stage was preparing a petri dish to take home to germinate the seeds on the windowsill.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed this chance to try their hand at using real equipment and getting a taste of what real plant scientist do.
Toby has added it to his list of future occupations, currently standing at builder, demolition expert, robotics engineer, animation set designer, farmer and now plant scientist.
He asked me if I would like to work at the Millennium Seedbank, and I have to say that if we lived closer I really would!
Notes: I have no affiliation with Wakehurst or Kew, it is just a superb place to visit. Have a look at their website for a list of activities coming up, including their regular Wednesday activities for kids during the summer holidays.