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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs