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.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Active in Italy

Annastella Gambini from the University of Milan visited BGCI last week. She is an amazingly enthusiastic professor of botany at the university and runs the botanic garden there. It as great to hear everything they have been up to. Recently Annastella has been developing a garden for the school within the university, that children of university staff attend. Focusing on senses, the plantings in the garden illustrate the ways plants change throughout the year and are designs to demonstrate adaptation and intra-species diversity.

Anastella also told us about a fantastic project, working with a chain of supermarkets to set up laboratories for plant investigation work within the supermarket. The idea being to learn and understand about plants, particularly the plants that feed us. Currently these labs are used by primary schools, whose teachers receive a guide on how to use the lab, and run by an educator, trained by Annastella and paid for by the supermarket. The hope is that the programme will expand so that the lab becomes a space where all children coming to the supermarket can go to whilst their parents are shopping, to learn about seeds and plants.

In May 2007, Milan held its first biodiversity festival, in a park near the university. Annastella set up a seminar on teaching about biodiversity attended by trainee teachers, with speakers including Sarah Lloyd from University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Sue Johnson from the Institute of Education in the UK. They are hoping to run the festival again next year and encourage the city's supermarkets to get involved by hosting stalls to demonstrate the biodiversity of food crops.

In her role as a lecturer for trainee teachers, Annastella also works on a series of on-line resources for students who are studying using distance learning to gain their teaching qualification. The support for these students includes videos, photos and materials to help in their lesson planning and preparation. This 3 month course is run four times a year by the university to encourage best practice, even if students are unable to go to university.

Other resources in the pipeline include materials for introducing biodiversity concepts to kindergarten pupils using potatoes and the construction of four new greenhouses to develop their education programme. For more information, contact Annastella

As ever, any news you may have on your developments is more than welcome! Drop us a line!

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