News / USA

Interactive Junior Botanist Program Teaches Kids About Plants

Interactive Program Teaches About Plantsi
X
Julie Taboh
August 23, 2014 4:06 PM
A special program created by the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington gives young students a hands-on opportunity to learn about plants and the importance they play in our day-to-day lives. VOA reporter Julie Taboh recently followed a group of area school children as they discovered what it is like to be a botanist for a day.

Lee Coykendall teaches students from nearby Virginia all about the Theobroma cacao - the source of chocolate.

“This tree will have 30-40 pods, and inside, look!” she exclaimed under the shade of the large tree at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington.

Coykendall is the children’s education specialist at the Garden and on this weekday morning she was offering a group of middle schoolers an opportunity to learn how chocolate goes from flower to chocolate bar within a year.

During the presentation, the students held a large mango-sized pod, touched and smelled cocoa butter and cacao beans, and even tasted a piece of chocolate.

The hands-on demonstration made an impression on 12-year-old Kevin Rosales.

“I learned that chocolate is made from nuts,” he said. “Really big nuts - like a football.”

Gelsy Marisol, 10, studies a cactus in the Junior Botanist program at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)Gelsy Marisol, 10, studies a cactus in the Junior Botanist program at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)
x
Gelsy Marisol, 10, studies a cactus in the Junior Botanist program at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)
Gelsy Marisol, 10, studies a cactus in the Junior Botanist program at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)

Wesley Martinez,14, was equally impressed.

“I learned that chocolate comes out of trees and I actually really did like the chocolate.”

The students were participating in a special program called Junior Botanist that’s designed by the Botanic Garden to teach them about plants.

Working in teams, they use booklets and tools from specially- equipped backpacks to explore seven special areas in the conservatory, including the Rare and Endangered area, a World Desert, a Primeval Garden and a section devoted to medicinal plants.

The student botanists used rulers to measure the thickness of bamboo, followed instructions in guidebooks to identify rare plants and used magnifying glasses to get close-up views of a spiny cactus, a particular favorite of 11-year old Jenny Martinez.

“Looking at the cactus and some plants that brought medicines…that was awesome,” she said.
 
“I got to see some pineapple and papaya plants,” said 12-year-old Katherine Alvarez. “It was fun and I liked it because I learned new things.”

Learning new things is the whole purpose of the program, said Coykendall, adding that it was deliberately designed to give students an experience they would never forget.

Junior Botanists at work at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)Junior Botanists at work at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)
x
Junior Botanists at work at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)
Junior Botanists at work at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, Aug. 15, 2014. (Photo: J. Taboh / VOA)

“At the Botanic Garden we are always looking for ways to bring our plants alive for people and especially for our younger visitors. Where our food comes from, where medicine comes from and to connect them with the magic of the plant world," Coykendall said.

Educator Cristina O’Brien said she appreciates and values that philosophy, and especially liked the hands-on aspect of the program.

“The kids are much more engaged when they get to be up, when they get to touch things, when they get to use a kit and explore," she said.

For Jenny Martinez, being able to explore the Garden as a Junior Botanist for a day was an inspiring experience.

“I want to be a botanist because it looks like fun because exploring plants and seeing what they do is fun,” she said.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More