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Boys' School Science Classes Visit the Wintergardens

March 05, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Wintergardens (1).JPGTo link in with this term’s science topic on 'Plant Functions and Processes,’ the Year 8 classes at the Boys’ School took a fascinating science trip to the Wintergardens in the Auckland Domain.

Opened in 1913, the Victorian style glasshouses are home to rare and spectacular plants in ever-changing, carefully tended displays. One house is heated and shows off lush tropical and heat-loving plants while the other displays temperate plants that change with the seasons. The boys soon discovered that it was like stepping into another world as they opened the doors to a hot and humid climate to be surrounded by an array of intriguing plants of all size, colour and scent.

The boys were given a special tour around the hot house by Auckland City Council horticulturalist, Eveline Perl. She shared with the boys some interesting facts about the plants housed there and the great lengths these plants go through to get pollinated. The highlights for the boys were the giant lily pads and discovering the cacao tree - learning that it’s the source of chocolate! Few could resist touching the Mimosa Pudica, known more commonly as the sensitive plant. A native to South America, the leaves suddenly fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, to protect them from predators, then re-open minutes later.

To complement the glasshouse tour, some of the Year 8 classes had a talk by Rachel Turner, an environmental scientist from Andrew Stewart Limited while others met with Dr Revel Drummond from Plant and Food Research.  To link with their current science topic, the scientists explained the different functions of the plants and their adaptive ways for reproducing and surviving their species.

To conclude the visit, the boys toured the Fernery. In total contrast to the hot house, the Fernery occupies a cool, sunken scoria quarry and is home to wide range of New Zealand ferns. Here the boys actively looked for spores on the underside of leaves, having come to learn the difference between seeds and spores in the reproduction of plants.

The boys learned a great deal from seeing the plants first-hand, hearing experts in the subject and being able to ask questions. We would like to the thank Eveline Perl, Rachel Turner and Dr Revel Drummond for their time to talk and answer the boys’ many queries.

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