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Arctic seed bank

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Role play
Topic: Photosynthesis

Up to 3 million seeds will be kept safe for thousands of years inside an Arctic mountain. Seeds from all varieties of the world’s important crops will be kept in new vaults on Norway’s island of Spitzbergen. In this activity, students imagine an environmental catastrophe forces them to retreat to live in a ‘biome’. They will select seeds from the seed bank to grow for a balanced diet and brush up on their plant knowledge as well.

11 – 14 Plants and photosynthesis; plants for food.

Published: 29th June 2006
Reviews & Comments: 13

Learning objectives

Students will:
� Reinforce knowledge of plants and photosynthesis
� Select plants and plan menus to provide a balanced diet

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

9c plants and photosynthesis
•that green plants do not absorb 'food' from the soil
•that green plants use carbon dioxide and water to produce biomass
•the meaning of the terms 'photosynthesis' and 'biomass'
•to represent photosynthesis by a word equation
•that light is needed for photosynthesis
•that the raw materials for photosynthesis are taken from the environment around the plant

9d plants for food
� that different parts of plants are food sources of different kinds
� that some parts of plants are starch stores
� about the products of photosynthesis
� how plants respire

Running the activity

Display page 1. Ask groups to consider the questions at the bottom of the page, making sure they realise that the main purpose of seed banks is to guard against plant extinctions and to preserve vital biodiversity. In answer to the second question, possible disasters include: terrorism, [nuclear] war, building development, pollution, global warming, nuclear accidents, plant disease.
Display page 2, which exemplifies the context further. Explain that – later in the activity – students will need to choose seeds saved in the vault to take into the biome to grow for food.

Give each group a set of cards made from page 3. Ask them to match each question card with one answer card. This activity is to check that they have the necessary plant knowledge to survive in the biome.

Give each group a copy of page 4. Students will need to use textbooks or the Internet to choose plant species that will provide a balanced diet. They will then devise menus and cooking instructions for a day in the biome, using only the plants they have grown.

News links

BBC news
The story
BBC news
Another version of the story

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Arctic seed bank review

Jul 2nd, 2012

5 Star

pirates treasure wont load

Reviewer: c honey

Missing attachment?

Jan 28th, 2012

1 Star

Hi.... I can't seem to open the activity. Does anyone know if it has been removed for some reason?
The teacher's notes do open as a word document, but the actually adobe activity just opens another window with the same webpage :(

Shame as I was hoping to use this for my lesson next week.


Reviewer: Monica Hernandez

Video for this activity

Sep 29th, 2010

4 Star

Here is a Youtube video for this activity

Reviewer: toni brodie

Arctic seed bank

Jun 16th, 2010

4 Star

Great lesson, pupils really liked the discussion (it was made more real having watched a video recently about the Eden project). The card sort is excellent even though my low ability class found it hard. The idea of selecting plants to take is good but the reality of pupils having to search the internet (even given the best sites I could find;, for the nutritional data is too hard especially given the wide variation in the units of nutritional content used by different websites. Even I couldn't find somewhere that included grains and pulses. I have set them the task to plan meals using their plants for hwk and we shall see...

Reviewer: Zoe Brunink

science Cannabis

May 10th, 2009

3 Star

The resources are excellent for class discussion. It helps us to use HSW in our science lessons.
Students was really enjoyed the activity. I was able to differentiate the task for the lower ability students.

Reviewer: moeneera karriem

Arctic seed bank review

Nov 10th, 2007

2 Star

THis is an excellent idea but students need more help with information about what is actually in the seed bank. I have looked on the internet but I am struggling to find any websites which actually tell you. A link for such information would be helpful

Reviewer: Stephanie Boyce

arctic seed bank

Apr 20th, 2007

3 Star

This was used with a Year 9 top set as a booster activity. I only used acitvity 3 with the class. they enjoyed the activity but did struggle with some anwers. a good and enjoyable starter or plenary.

Reviewer: Lisa Absalom

Arctic Seed Bank

Apr 12th, 2007

4 Star

A very engaging activity for my level 3-4 Y9's and it worked well when the kids reviewed and commented on each others diet plans. The card sort required drastic slimming down - to the 5 easiest cards - the full set is perhaps better aimed at high ability Y9's and GCSE.

Reviewer: Martin Huxley

Arctic Seed Bank

Jan 22nd, 2007

5 Star

I did this with Y9 in 1 lesson and 1 homework.
Excellent activity - at one point my kids actually believed we were going to be living in Biomes!
The card match was good- they worked in pairs to produce a poster with this. They carried on with the balanced diet plan and finished it for homework.

Reviewer: Kirsty Fish

artic seed bank

Sep 10th, 2006

4 Star

Very stimulating for the students

Reviewer: Amanda Jones

Artic Seed Bank

Jul 11th, 2006

4 Star

A very good resource - like the card sort - can be used as a starter or plenary. However, some useful links for research on the internet would help otherwise there is the potential for a lot of wasted time.

Reviewer: Mark Farrow

Arctic seed bank review

Jul 5th, 2006

5 Star

fantastic and very interesting website, very useful for HSW lesson planning. I visit this website on regular bases.
Rukhsana Shahid
South Camden School

Reviewer: rukhsana shahid

arctic seed bank

Jul 5th, 2006

5 Star

Used this as a Year 9 post SATs activity. Kids came out with very imaginative diets - including growing cocoa beans (plenty of fats!) to make chocolate! Combined the activity with making geodesic domes (based on rolled up newspaper tubes, made into triangles) to make a series of 3 lessons - we are planting cress seeds in the domes next lesson. Will use the excellent card sort for other SATS topics.

Reviewer: marion hamshere