Cauliflower cloning and fungi hunting at Kew's first science festival

Extracting DNA from peas, learning to clone a cauliflower and getting named in a scientific paper are just a few of the opportunities for visitors to RBG Kew this weekend at the gardens' first ever Science Festival.

A Kew scientist carrying out the DNA extraction process. Image: RBG Kew
A Kew scientist carrying out the DNA extraction process. Image: RBG Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will bring the science out of the labs and into the gardens over 5–7 August. Celebrating ground-breaking scientific discoveries and the work of Kew scientists, the family-friendly festival will showcase the need for plant and fungal science and conservation. 

The Science Festival reflects the new Kew Science Strategy introduced in 2015. It aims to better link the horticultural and scientific aspects of RBG Kew while increasing visitor numbers. The festival is free with paid entry to Kew.

Highlights of the festival include chances to:

- Extract DNA from peas and find out how teams from Kew use DNA to study plants around the world
- Sequence a plant's DNA using the tiny portable DNA sequencer
- Watch botanical horticulturist Noelia Alvarez collect seeds from orchids using pins and a tuning fork
- Go on a scavenger hunt to find out how Kew researchers investigate wild crops such as cabbage to help feed the world
- Become a plant conservationist
- Analyse a plant's genome size
- Learn how cloning is saving plant species from extinction and try the process on a cauliflower
- Examine plants and insects in minute detail under microscope
- Join a UK-wide treasure hunt for the most rarely-recorded fungi
- Help the team analyse new plants, with the opportunity for visitors to have their names on a scientific paper
- Preserve and mount a specimen library with herbarium staff

Professor Kathy Willis, director of science, said: "Kew's first Science Festival will engage and fascinate in equal measure. It's all about getting science into the gardens and showcasing the exciting work carried out by our scientists in a fun environment. We want to inspire more young people to think of studying what we do and building a career in science. Most importantly we hope that visitors have fun and enjoy the science our team carries out."

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