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What fun(gi)! An activity with the humble mushroom

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Mushroom from a field

There’s no doubt that mushrooms are interesting – tasty and versatile, with many different types.  Then of course there’s toadstools in a range of colours with varying abilities to poison as well!  But there’s much more to mushrooms than stir fries and soups!

One of our Experimentary subscribers and regular contributors to our blog decided to look at this fungi in a different way (while steering away from the poisonous ones) and give our Science@Home “Spore Prints” activity a go.  Here’s how it went!

A mushroom
The first step was to find the mushrooms!  We had regular old button cup mushrooms in the fridge, but because they are a little “tall” we thought the spore prints might not work too well.  As luck would have it though, we spotted a beautiful fungi on our walk home from school through the park.

The only other thing we needed was a piece of paper! (Tick!)

As always, watching the short video put together by Dr Rob explained all about gills and spores, and then covered what we needed to do, and the science behind it.  We decided we’d give the button mushroom a go as well, even though we didn’t think it would produce a very good spore print.

Removing stem
Placing mushrooms
So, after removing the stem of both mushrooms, and placing them on bits of paper, we covered them with a bowl and set them aside in a warm spot inside to wait for the magic to happen.

According to Dr Rob, the spores of a mushroom are like seeds, which are then released, with the idea that the wind catches them so they can spread and propagate.  Our spore prints (hopefully) would “catch” these spores, producing a picture.

Fast-forward to the next day and with much excitement we took a peek under the bowls to see if we had a result.

Sure enough, as expected not much happened with the button mushroom, but the beautiful mushroom we found in the park left behind a lovely spore print!

Spore print
It was a simple enough activity, but the kids had a great time, from finding and picking the mushroom, watching the video and waiting for the results.  They were pretty interested to know a bit more about mushrooms (but for the younger one, still not enough to try them at dinner…).

We’re looking forward to giving another Science@Home activity a go soon!

Published May 6, 2022

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