At Kidsfirst Maniototo, a row of “Snapper Plants” provide an intriguing introduction into how plants grow and nourish themselves...
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It’s amazing the things that capture young imaginations. The children at Kidsfirst Maniototo have been intrigued with a strange looking plant which animals won’t eat, rather it eats animals!
The Venus Flytrap feeds on insects and small frogs to get the nutrients it needs to grow.
Relieving Head Teacher, Debbie McNally brought one to kindergarten as a science project, but the children were so fascinated by the carnivorous plant that they soon acquired three more.
Parents were equally intrigued, including a scientist and a vet who taught the children and teachers a little bit more about the plant. The tamariki learned how it captures insects and what conditions it needs to grow.
An insect is attracted to the plant by the sweet nectar it gives off. Once the insect is moving around inside the trap, it only has to brush past two sensor hairs before the trap will close over it with lightning speed. The spikey hairs on the edge of the trap, that look like eyelashes, then interlace together to prevent escape. The trap secretes digestive fluid to dissolve the insect – a tasty lunch for the Venus Flytrap.
One of the children nicknamed the plant the 'snapper plant' and that's what the kindergarten has referred to it as, ever since.
“They don't snap fingers," said one of the children. "They only eat flies. They see the fly and go yum, yum, yum ...and then 'snap'!"
It's a science project that has captivated these young minds and, as Relieving Head Teacher, Debbie McNally says... "just goes on an on".
The plants have also had practical benefits for the kindergarten, Debbie adds "Honestly, it's also reduced the number of flies!"
The children love exploring all of the weird and wacky creatures living around the world, and the Venus Flytrap is a plant with a particularly alien look and behaviours.
Looking at plants like this shows the children what else is out there, feeds their curiosity, inspires them to explore and learn about the wider world.
ABOVE: Relieving Head Teacher Debbie McNally admits she's not very good with house plants as a rule, but has worked really hard to keep these ones in good health.
A Venus Flytrap science project at Kidsfirst Maniototo has captivated children and parents alike.
Venus Flytrap Fun Facts:
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.