GRDC’s new Seed to Store initiative a hit with science students

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) presented a new suite of science-based activities at the 2015 NYSF January Sessions.

GRDC Capacity Building Program Manager Kathleen Allan says the new activities explored the biology and chemistry of cereal grains, engaging school students with the story of grain production from being sown as seed in the ground to ending up as products in stores.

“The GRDC is taking on a much more proactive role on behalf of the grain growers who support the organisation in educating students about the vast range of rewarding and challenging career opportunities on offer in our industry,” Ms Allan said.

There is an incredible range of science-based careers on offer in the grains industry

“There is an incredible range of science-based careers on offer in the grains industry – from engineering, molecular biology, agronomy, food science, grain chemistry and more – and there are plenty of jobs available.”

At the NYSF, students worked on a series of activities with GRDC science educator Belinda Cay, from AgCommunicators in Adelaide.

Extracting DNA from wheatgerm IMG_1407_2

Grinding grain to make dough

“Belinda helped students review soil health, extract DNA from wheat, assess dough quality and chemistry of weather-damaged and healthy grains and looked at the stomata and cell structures of drought tolerant and susceptible crop varieties,” Ms Allan said.

“It is always exciting to see the students work through the activities, achieve some great results and have a good time.”

Jana Dixon, a year twelve student from Clare in South Australia rated the GRDC Seed to Store session a five out of five.

“The Seed to Store activity was relevant to the field I want to work in, and it was fun, we had a great time doing the experiments and learning about the careers on offer,” she said.

Ms Allan says the GRDC’s participation in science education programs, such as the National Youth Science Forum, is integral to the future of the grains industry to ensure there are enough skilled job-seekers available to meet employment demand.

The grains industry is crying out for graduates in a range of science-based fields

“The grains industry is crying out for graduates in a range of science-based fields. In fact, the opportunities are so immense that while Australian universities produce 700 agricultural graduates per year, annual job market openings exceed 4000 positions – less than one-quarter of the jobs are being filled.

“With this in mind, we are very keen to engage more students in our industry’s opportunities and look forward to running more Seed to Store workshops with students in 2016.”

Teachers interested in receiving Seed to Store education resources can contact Belinda Cay, 0423 295 576 and cay@agcommunicators.com.au

A grainy day

Understanding how different strains of grains contribute to the quality and durability of wheat was the focus of one of the hands-on sessions during the Session A program on day 9.

Facilitated through the NYSF’s partnership with the Grains Research & Development Corporation, students conducted a series of experiments that looked at cell structure of plants and the impact of weather on their growth, plant breeding techniques, and soil quality and composition.

IMG_1366_2

Conducting a leaf peel experiment to find out how cells work

Extracting DNA from wheatgerm

Extracting DNA from wheatgerm

Investigating the nematodes in soil

Investigating the nematodes in soil

Guess the grains

Guess the grain

Then they made some dough!  Not the green stuff though … Students were tasked to investigate the effects of weather damage on dough quality and behaviour through testing the grain for starch quality.

There was also a guessing competition – trying to work out which grain was which!.  Even NYSF Director, Damien Pearce, got into the game.

 

 

Story by Julie Maynard