Sunshine ignites school pupils’ passion for science


More than a thousand school children from across South Yorkshire delved into the wacky and wonderful world of science during a unique lecture at the University of Sheffield last week.

The youngsters embarked on an intrepid journey of scientific discovery at the Christmastime Lecture entitled ‘Sunshine for Breakfast’.

The special event gave youngsters a fascinating insight into how life is powered by the sun’s energy and a glimpse of the world’s first robotic plant.

Dr Colin Osborne from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences gave an explosive lecture explaining how plants capture light from the sun and convert it into sugar, which we use to power our bodies.

“The exciting lecture delved into an amazing secret of life – all of us are solar powered,” said Dr Osborne.

“I really hope the event helped to ignite the pupils’ passion for science whilst teaching them how important the sun’s energy is to us and the rest of the planet.”


The lecture was illustrated by a series of explosive demonstrations. Highlights included a rocket which shot across the stage, a cycle race, a pyramid made of enough baked beans to feed a 10-year old child for a year, and a fireball of burning sugar.

After the lecture the school children got the chance to explore food and energy and met some weird plants – including the world’s first robotic plant –in a variety of interactive activities devised by University of Sheffield biology students.


Sunshine for Breakfast was organised by Dr Fiona Hunter. This is the third annual Animal and Plant Sciences Schools’ Christmastime Lecture, which is rapidly becoming the must-see Christmas event for 8-11 year olds.

Dr Hunter said: “The children are learning the secret of life on earth, without the sun none of us would exist!

“We’re really pushing the boundaries with our onstage demonstrations – you don’t see rocket-powered vehicles and burning sugar fireballs every day.

“It’s fantastic to see so many children so excited about science and this lecture really epitomises our outreach slogan, ‘Where Learning and Fun Collide!”


Read more about RoboPlant

Find out more about Project Sunshine