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Science: plants and people

This course explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of us all. Plants and their products are important not just as staple foods but also increasingly as biofuels, bioplastics and medicines, and even for catching criminals and in combating climate change. is one of a series of 100-hour flexible online courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It allows you to learn about this topic just for interest and enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to further study. You can register and begin this course at any time and will have at least 6 months to complete it.

OU course
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: © Ken Pomfret
Make a meadow, whatever the scale and the diversity of meadows article icon

Nature & Environment 

Make a meadow, whatever the scale and the diversity of meadows

Would you like to create your own meadow? Find out the steps required to make one and how you can maintain it.

Article
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Neighbourhood nature free course icon Level

Nature & Environment 

Neighbourhood nature

There is a fascinating world of nature all around us which we can see if we know how to look for it. Wherever you live, be it in a city or the countryside, you will find areas that support a range of wildlife. This free course, Neighbourhood nature, will provide you with basic scientific and observational skills so that you can go into your local neighbourhood to discover the animals and plants in open spaces. You will learn how to observe, identify and record the wildlife around you, building up a picture of a small part of your local environment.

Free course
1 hr
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Surviving the winter free course icon Level

Nature & Environment 

Surviving the winter

In this free course, Surviving the winter, we study one aspect of the fluctuating nature of an organisms environment. We consider how organisms living in a temperate climate, such as that in Britain, are adapted to cope with winter. You will see that there is much diversity of adaptations among organisms, with different species coping with the demands of a fluctuating environment in quite different ways. As cyclic variations are a widespread feature of environments, the range of adaptations to them is an important source of biological diversity.

Free course
10 hrs
Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Antranias
When is the best time to water during a heatwave? article icon

Nature & Environment 

When is the best time to water during a heatwave?

The sun is out, the sky is blue; there's not a cloud to spoil the view and have you seen what that's doing to the herbaceous border? Botanist Alastair Culham explains how to make the most of watering as Britain continues to experience a hot spell.

Article
Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Engin_akyurt
Soil as the book of nature article icon

Nature & Environment 

Soil as the book of nature

Our planet is largely covered with soil, and like sunlight and water we tend to take it for granted, and not give it the respect it deserves.

Article
Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: qimono
Challenge: Make paper and ink video icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Challenge: Make paper and ink

Could our stricken scientists make their own paper and ink? It required undestanding of the processes involved.  

Video
15 mins
Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: MaxPixel
DIY Science: Ecosphere activity icon

Nature & Environment 

DIY Science: Ecosphere

Use our easy to follow guide to create a mini-version of an ecosphere, and watch what happens to the plants and creatures inside.

Activity
Creative commons image Icon Mark Adams under Creative Commons BY-ND 4.0 license
OpenLearn Live: 29th November 2016 article icon

Nature & Environment 

OpenLearn Live: 29th November 2016

A closer look at rabbit frost. Then learning and research across the day.

Article
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Used with permission
Structural materials in cells free course icon Level

Science, Maths & Technology 

Structural materials in cells

Where does the structure of our body come from? This free course, Structural materials in cells, looks at the structure of cells and how proteins are used by both animals and plants to create a framework for cellular growth. You will also learn how a material as fine as spider silk can exceed the strength of steel.

Free course
20 hrs
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC
OU on the BBC: Saving Species article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Saving Species

Celebrate biodiversity and wildlife conservation with Radio 4's weekly Saving Species

Article
Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: M E Dodd
Woodland habitats activity icon

Nature & Environment 

Woodland habitats

What are the intricate connections under the leaves of a British woodland? Explore the relationships between woodland organisms.

Activity
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