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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid