BGCI Education Blog

We've set up this blog to talk about education, the environment, plants, the universe... oh yes, and botanic gardens. You can join in by leaving comments and signing up for email updates.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Sorting Vegetables - all in a day's work

A year ago we gave up our family car, partly for economic reasons but mainly for environmental reasons. Day-to-day it works out fine, especially as we live in London which has such excellent transport links. Yesterday, however, I went to Bristol (West Britain) for a workshop. The journey, that in a car would normally take one and a half hours, took three and a half hours using public transport. I consoled myself with the fact that I was able to edit most of Roots on the way!

The workshop held at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden was excellent. Three botanic gardens - Innsbruck (Austria), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Kew (UK) - and a museum (Trento, Italy) have been working on an EU project called ‘Plant scientists investigate’. The workshop introduced us to a terrific range of activities that are included on their new website – Obviously we couldn’t try them all out but we had a good taste of the types of activities that teachers could do with their classes as well as activities that gardens could run with teachers and children. The resources on the plantscafe website are grouped under four themes - Conservation, Art and Plants, Food and Experimenting with Plant Growth. For the purposes of the workshop we focused on the theme of Food, mainly because Kew organised the workshop and this is the theme they developed. The activities we carried out were good fun and involved doing a diamond ranking exercise to debate the importance of plants, becoming detectives to deduce which vegetables matched with which evidence cards (an activity that involved good observation), sorting vegetables into families and carrying out a skit for our colleagues to guess which plant we were acting out. Everyone left the workshop fired up to find out more about the other activities. The website won’t be up and running until November, but I’ve no doubt it will be a fantastic resource for teachers and botanic gardens.

During the workshop we all had a chance to visit the newly relocated University of Bristol Botanic Garden. It’s a compact garden (1.77 hectares) but is well worth a visit. Its collections focus on four themes – Plant Evolution, Plants of the Mediterranean Climate Regions, Useful Plants and Local Flora and Rare Native Plants. They’re still planting up the garden so I’m looking forward to going back and finding out how it’s coming along.