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Mile Cross Primary - Lunchbox Science : Lettuce


Scientists Anna Jordan and Jake Stone from the entomology department at the John Innes Centre worked with artist Lara A’Court and writer Julia Webb. Anna and Jake introduced Lucy White's year 4 class to insect pests of crops through microscope images of a variety of species, most of which looked like monsters when magnified to such extremes. The children learned how scientists are studying the feeding habits and lifecycles of pests to see how they can protect important food crops from them.

The children worked in groups to set up Ladybird bio-control experiments with ‘clean’ lettuce plants that they infested with aphids and then introduced ladybirds as predators. The experiments were placed on the windowsill for the children to continue to monitor over the coming days.

Guided by Julia and inspired by a poem that she had written about lettuces and predators, the children suggested lots of words that could be used in a their own poems. They wrote the words on slips of paper which they put into an individual container and then drew out in turn to use as lines of their poem.

Lara asked the children to study the magnified images of insect pests and draw their own imaginary predators using the structures of the heads of real insects, particularly the mouth parts to inform their drawings. The drawings were then turned into masks, constructed with sheets of foam, pipe cleaners and other small collage materials.