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The tutor running our first-year labs does a wonderful job of seeking out quirky little video clips that she can use to illustrate a particular point & pique her students’ interest. But I think I might have beaten her to this one (courtesy as usual of PZ): a time-lapse sequence of germination & growth of maize.

 

One of the reasons I was glad to find the clip relates back to an earlier post on the dearth of students who are really keenly interested in botany. The tutor wondered if perhaps it’s because plants just don’t seem to do anything: they sit there & photosynthesise, you can eat bits of them (as long as the bits aren’t brussels sprouts), but they don’t seem to behave in the same fascinating, multifaceted way that animals do.

Of course, people who are ‘into’ plants know that plants do behave, but their behaviour patterns tend to be visible only on a longer time-scale than we’re used to. Tropisms – growth movements, & in particular thigmatropism – can look almost balletic when filmed in time-lapse & speeded up. Flowering, root growth, development of fruit – all look wonderful viewed in this way, in a way that daily classroom observation of germinating seeds can’t capture.

Maybe we need to provide more links to material like this?