Did you know that next week 12-20 August is National Science Week? This means that as a whole nation we celebrate Science in all it’s disciplines and forms. At St Emilie’s we constantly engage in innovative Science projects with the wider community. The National Science Week topic for 2017 is Future Earth and one of our learning focuses is to ‘promote sustainable rural futures’.
Our Year 5 students have been involved in the Mildew Mania project through the Centre for Crop and Disease Management at Curtin University. So what is Mildew Mania?
Powdery mildew a common barley disease is caused by a fungus called Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (often shortened to Bgh).
This is the major disease of barley in WA, particularly in wetter areas.
A severe infection of powdery mildew (or Bhg) reduces yield and can cause grain to be downgraded to feed.
To commence the project, late in term two the students planted several varieties of barley and wheat.
Then we left our crops to grow. We planted the following varieties of barley – Hindmarsh, Buloke, Baudin and Oxford. We also planted Wyalkatchem wheat. Every week we investigated our crops to see if their was any powdery mildew. This is what it looks like.
This week we invited Gina Pearse and Emily from the Mildew Mania project to come in and talk to the students about the project.
First the students were shown a powerpoint and given little key pads so that they could enter their own answers to various questions.
After the presentation the students were split into four groups and conducted their own investigations using the equipment provided by Gina and Emily.
Station one – using a Dinolite digital microscope to investigate barley seeds and a barley plant.
Station two – taking a barley leaf sample and placing it carefully into a test tube with agar jelly and then taking a swap of the leaf.
Station three – identifying different seed varieties.
Station four – using a microscope with a barley sample that has been infected with the disease.
After careful examination of our own Baudin barley crop, we were able to observe that our crop has the powdery mildew disease!! We were able to see the pustules by using the Dinolite digital microscope provided by Curtin University.
So what does this all mean? We will continue with the project throughout term 3 and into term 4. We will monitor our crops each week to see if the other varieties of barley and wheat have become infected. In term 4 we will take samples of all our crops and submit them to the scientists involved in the Mildew Mania project and they will examine the samples in further detail.