Questions for ‘Wired and weird: Meet the cyborg plants’

Under infrared light, parts of this cyborg leaf turn orange. Its orange spots reveal where the tiny antennae have infiltrated the leaf’s cells

Michael Strano, MIT

To accompany feature “Wired and weird: Meet the cyborg plants”


Before Reading:

1. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘cyborg’? What do you think a cyborg is?       

2. What are some real-world ways in which electrified or computerized plants might be helpful?           

During Reading:

1. What is a cyborg?     

2. What is photosynthesis? How are engineers trying to take advantage of it?

3. What wavelengths of light do chlorophyll pigments absorb?

4. How did a wire get inside the stem  of the rose pictured at the top of the story?

5. Based on the story, in what ways might wired-up plants be useful?

6. What is nanotechnology? How did Michael Strano use it to get molecules through a chloroplast’s wall?

7. What are two different ways that Strano is using nanotechnology to enhance plants?

8. Why are roots a useful thing for scientists to try and recreate in robotic form?

9. Describe some of the ways that research from the Plantoid robot could be used.                      

After Reading:

1. What are some ways that cyborg plants and other plant-inspired technologies might be useful in your life? Put on your thinking cap and come up with two more ways — not mentioned in the story — that might make botanical cyborgs helpful?

2.  Do you think that cyborg plants are a good idea or does adding electronics into living things make you uncomfortable? Explain why you feel the way that you do about the issue.