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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs