Scientists in Schools

Hot potatoes!

  • Joanne Roberts , Templeton Primary School, Victoria
  • Nigel Crump, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria

Dr Nigel Crump, a potato pathologist from the Department of Primary Industries, utilised the International Year of the Potato in 2008 to educate an entire school on the benefits of the humble little potato.

Nigel was partnered with Joanne Roberts from Templeton Primary School just before he went overseas for a few weeks. He left Joanne’s class with the task of finding a way to promote to the school community that it was International Year of the Potato.

Imagine his surprise when Nigel was invited to the school assembly on his return to find that the students had written a 'Potato Rap'. Each of Joanne’s Year 4 class dressed up in coloured tights (representing different coloured potatoes) and stuffed their bodies with newspaper so they looked like lumpy spuds. The 'rap' was performed to the entire school complete with a full-body potato costume which turned from a spud into a hot potato!

A group of students dressed as potatoes

Of course, alongside the fun the children also researched facts about potatoes and shared 'facts you may not know about the potato' after they sang their song. Even Joanne confessed to learning more about potatoes than she ever knew before.

As well as the performance, Nigel supplied the class with 20 different varieties of potato to plant. The aim was to determine which ones grew into healthy potatoes and which ones contracted diseases.

Nigel then educated the children on the various diseases associated with the potatoes.

Students gathered around a potatoe garden

Joanne wrote to say that the children’s performance was “a treat for the whole community, but more importantly my students are associating science with discovery and fun. They are enjoying researching facts, recording their findings, explaining why one fact is more important than another and challenging each other's ideas and opinions. Science and literacy at its best”.