CAOS-Agrarian Sciences Online at the secondary level

Mess (Agricultural Science Online for High School) is a project funded by the “Cuenta la Ciencia” of the Fundación General CSIC, combining Five mini research projects Led by researchers from the Zaidín Experimental Station (EEZ-CSIC).

Participate in projects for secondary school teachers and vocational training in Secondary schools in Granada, Almeria and Murcia. The ultimate goal was for the students to enter the Research in agricultural sciences. Each project was developed in the educational centers during the second quarter of this cycle and under the supervision of Online Scientific staff. All of them also have specific blogs where they can follow their own development, as well as A public project that you did on your own.



As a coronation, students were able to present their results (some in English) at a conference Online which was held with great success on April 15, and was followed by the students’ relatives, colleagues and friends, as well as the faculty and researchers from the respective centers. The professor also participated in the conference Robert Coulter of Harvard University With a very inspiring opening keynote titled “What is life?”

All offers are available at EEZ YouTube channel. This project was developed تطوير In light of the challenge posed by the epidemic Derived from COVID19, which has forced students, teachers, and researchers to introduce innovative limits on face-to-face working hours, lab manipulation, and teamwork. From a distance, EEZ researchers have been able to manage projects at institutes in Granada, Almería and Murcia with the proximity that new technologies allow.

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Thanks to the participation of secondary school faculty, as transfer hubs, projects have been able to develop in a very short time and, in some cases, have been integrated directly into the academic curricula of the centers themselves. The projects developed addressed the topics discussed below.

Survive on salty planets: Directed by Manuel Espinosa (EEZ-CSIC) and Antonio Quesada (IES Zaidín Vergeles, Granada). Sophomores in high school have done bibliographic research on the effects of salts on plants, how microorganisms can protect them in salty environments, or about what is known about the salt composition of Martian soil. On the other hand, they have developed experiments in the laboratory to check the effect of various salts on the germination and development of plants, and whether certain microorganisms can have a protective effect. This project also sought to educate students about the effects of global change on soil fertility and encourage them to learn about the latest developments in Mars exploration.

Close-up local seeds were seen: Directed by Juan de Dios Alche (EEZ-CSIC) and Carlos de la Fuente (IES Miguel de Cervantes, Murcia). Students (4th ESO) made notes characterizing seeds of native plants using various visualization techniques, including the use of microscopy. For this, different domestic species were compared with the most common of these species, describing certain characteristics that imply additional aspects for their improvement.

DNA: Four very important letters: Directed by Francisco Martinez Abarca (EEZ-CSIC) and Lola Burnel (IES Francisco Ayala, Granada). Sophomores in high school have realized that DNA has an orientation in which the left is “upstream” while the right is “downstream”; That having a DNA sequence essentially has a protein sequence. They were able to explain how similar or different genes and organisms are, through DNA, etc. All this was carried out through the management of bioinformatics programs and micro-monitoring via the Internet. With this knowledge, the students went into the study of gene clusters that encode bacterial reverse transcriptase that had recently been described as novel defense systems against viruses (phages). And in today’s science “Before using the pipette, you must use the keyboard.”

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How do we increase the organic matter of our soil?: Directed by German Tortosha (EEZ-CSIC) and Lucia Carrasco (IES .) Jose Marin de Velez RubioAlmeria). Students of the FP degree in Agricultural Production were able to learn about the importance of organic matter (OM) in soil and its role in the development of plants. They have identified potential sources of OM, such as agricultural residues, and at the same time acquired the basics of biological techniques such as composting or vermicomposting to convert it into organic fertilizers. The students made their own liquid organic fertilizer (rich in carbon, nitrogen and potassium) using different sources, checking their effect on different types of legumes (beans, peas, …) in soils of different origins.

Does pepper dream about medicine?: Directed by Jose Manuel Palma (EEZ-CSIC) and Antonio Quesada (IES Zaidín Vergeles, Granada). The first baccalaureate students were given a series of tasks that were solved throughout the second semester. After previous documentation, both bibliographically and online, on the topic, students prepared surveys to assess the degree of knowledge about the properties and habits of pepper consumption in the community. The students analyzed their nutritional value, as they were able to relate the different species to their content of capsaicin, the compound responsible for “some bite and some don’t.” Through these analyzes and other bibliographic studies, students were able to indicate whether pepper provides any compound with potentially beneficial effects on our health, given its constant and almost daily consumption. They also demonstrated the potential antimicrobial effect of extracts from different types of pepper.

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In short, CAOS is presented as an initiative that can be exported to other research centers and universities. The success of these five projects, even in times of an epidemic, supports the agricultural research with high school students that has been conducted at the Zaidín Experimental Station without interruption since 2011.

author: Francisco Martinez Abarca. PhD in Biological Sciences. Researcher in the Department of Soil and Plant Microbiology at Zeidan Experimental Station in Granada (EEZ-CSIC). His research deals with the study at the molecular and genetic level of soil microorganisms in association with plants, which currently extends to the realm of prokaryotes. Researcher in charge of the CAOS project.

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