Typically completed by 5-11 year olds, CREST Star and SuperStar challenges relate to everyday experiences. Children complete eight activities to gain a CREST Award, with each activity taking between 45 minutes and one hour to complete.
The activities are designed to be easy-to-run and low-cost. You don’t need to be a teacher, have a science background or have access to specialist equipment to run them. The packs contain helpful hints and tips for you to use, explaining the scientific themes and offering guidance on conversation topics for your children.
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Plant parents Organiser’s Card About the activity This activity is designed to introduce children to selective breeding and genetic engineering in farming. Uncle Astro has a Broccoflower in the fridge - it’s a mix between broccoli and cauliflower! He says it’s a GMO - a genetically modified organism. Aunt Stella says that GMO foods come from plants that have had some genes added or removed to change the traits of the plant. Normally farmers use selective breeding or scientists use genetic modification to make fruits and vegetables that are bigger, tastier, or more resilient against pests. Selective breeding takes longer, but genetic modification is much more difficult. Cosmic thinks farmers could make all kinds of new food. What ‘new’ crop would you make? Through this activity you will support your group to: •●Learn about selective breeding and genetic engineering in farming and some examples of how this is used •●Think about the traits of food producing plants and design their own ‘new’ crop, discussing whether this might be achieved by selective breeding or if it would need to be genetically engineered •●Prepare a poster advertising their ‘new’ crop and present it to the group Kit list • Poster making materials • Access to internet (or printed materials about new genetically engineered crops) What to do 1. Introduce the activity using the story from the Activity Card. Ask the group if they have heard of selective breeding or GMOs. Discuss what the two terms mean. 2. Give out the Activity Cards and poster making materials to the group. 3. Explain that they will be researching and making posters about a ‘new’ food crop. 4. Support the children to conduct their research and decide on their new crop. 5. Support the children to make their posters with information about their chosen new crop. 6. Ask the children to present their work to the rest of the group.
Things to think about The UK has strict rules on GMO crops, so make it clear to children that they are not common in supermarkets. Try and pull out a discussion around the positives and negatives of GMOS. For example, ‘Scuba’ rice has been given beneficial qualities to ensure it can grow even during floods. This will help many people in the developing world. In contrast, many people are worried about the potential effects of GMOs. Both genetic engineering and selective breeding are used to change a species, but the mechanism for change is different. Selective breeding selects for traits already present in a species, whereas genetic engineering creates new traits. GM crops have been very controversial. Selective breeding is the process of selecting desirable characteristics of the parent. For example, replanting seeds from a crop that has shown to be particularly drought resistant. We have used selective breeding for thousands of years (for both plants and animals). However, it’s limited to creating changes within species or very closely related species, and takes generations of selection. GMOs are organisms that have had their characteristics changed through the modification of their DNA. One example is genes from a bacteria inserted into food crops so that the crop can create its own insecticide. Try these resources to introduce your students to GMOs • What is selective breeding? yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-selective-breeding • What is a GMO? yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-a-gmo • BBC: Artificial selection bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mtd91 Keywords • GMO • Selective breeding • Genome • Genetic modification British Science Association Registered Charity No. 212479 and SC039236