Archive for the ‘botany’ Category

Where can we go to see plants in Riverside?

I heard someone say this at an event last year. I did not respond to the woman who was thinking this aloud. I only wondered why, in a park setting, she did not see the plants around her. Why did she think it was necessary to go somewhere specific to see plants?

Her question confirmed observations I had made and validated my plans for 2014 and Plants, Life, Riverside, an ongoing exploration of plants within the city limits of Riverside, CA.

This project is about awareness and local history.
It’s about plants and people.
It’s about botany that is accessible, digestible and curbside.

It’s about ArtPlantae living its mission aloud — encouraging an interest in plants, connecting people and exploring drawing as a learning tool.

It’s also about appreciating plants and how they contribute to life, no matter where you are.

You are invited to join me on this journey. Please check back here for updates. If you prefer to have the updates come to you, follow this site or follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

Where are the plants in this urban landscape?

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Many years ago I had the opportunity to help pilot test a new biology lab curriculum for nonmajors. It is through this experience that I came to see the many ways people learn. It is also how I came to appreciate the Herculean effort required to design, write, implement, evaluate and fine-tune a curriculum. I think of this experience often, especially when I read about activities such as the leaf-building activity that is the focus of this week’s column.

We’ve learned how describing a concept with words and how visualizing words can make invisible processes easier to understand.

Today we go 3-D and consider model-making. The leaf-building exercise we’re going to learn about was created by science teacher Patty Littlejohn. She describes the model-building process and how she uses the models to enhance student understanding of photosynthesis in Building Leaves and an Understanding of Photosynthesis.

Littlejohn (2007) makes photosynthesis easier to think about by making the process of photosynthesis larger than life.

To help her middle school students see, feel and experience photosynthesis, she has them build a model of a leaf, a plant cell and an animal cell. Students build leaves with veins, chloroplasts, stomata and an epidermis. Their plant and animal cells have cell membranes and organelles. Littlejohn says students benefit from the model-building exercise because it requires them to “see and manipulate the reactants and products of photosynthesis and cellular respiration” (Littlejohn, 2007).

In addition to their leaf and cell models, students also create reactants and products (i.e., carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, energy, glucose) and combine reactants to simulate the chemical reactions occurring within plant and animal cells. By engaging students in the construction of both cell types, Littlejohn (2007) is able to show students how energy is transferred between organisms.

Littlejohn (2007) includes detailed instructions and material lists in her article so that teachers can bring this same experience to their classroom or program. Littlejohn’s article can be purchased online for 99¢. You can also look for her article at your local college library.

Literature Cited

Littlejohn, Patty. 2007. Building leaves and an understanding of photosynthesis. Science Scope. 8(30): 22-25

Also See

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BotanyForAllAges Botany for All Ages is a collection of sensory-based environmental education activities created by volunteers and educators at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. This book was written for parents, classroom teachers and informal science educators.

Written as a collaborative effort between Jorie Hunken and the New England Wild Flower Society,
Botany for All Ages begins with 26 short chapters offering instruction about how to lead environmental education activities. In their introduction to teaching with plants, Hunken and the Society address topics such as how to structure outdoor activities, how to enhance observational skills and how to develop a vocabulary that can be used to identify plants. Included in this section are study sheets to activities that call upon students to observe, listen, experiment, explain, draw, write or teach about the plant topic at hand.

Most of the remaining 101 short chapters are comprised of activities through which botanists of all ages can learn about plant morphology, plant physiology, pollination, seed dispersal, plant growth, plant succession, plant/insect interactions and soil science. There is even an activity involving transects encouraging thoughtful observation and the use of drawing to record changes in plant species.

This book has so many activities and tips that it is impossible to explain them all here. Also included is a glossary of terms and a bibliography of resources about environmental education, flowers, seeds, plant function, ​and ethnobotany.

This title is still available as a used book. Search for copies of Botany for All Ages at your favorite online used book provider.

Literature Cited

Hunken, Jorie. 1993. Botany for All Ages: Discovering Nature through Activities for Children and Adults. Second edition. Old Saybrook, CT: The Globe Pequot Press.

Also See

Go Botany: New England Wild Flower Society

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fsc2014 The Field Studies Council in England has announced its schedule of classes for 2014. Click on the image to view their 52-page brochure listing 350 classes about plants, art and nature.

This is what’s new at
Classes Near You > England.

Field Studies Council

Founded in 1943, the Field Studies Council (FSC) provides learning opportunities about the environment for all ages and abilities. Visit their website to learn more about interdisciplinary fieldwork opportunities, classes for individuals and families, publications and profession development courses. Courses are held across the FSC network of UK Centers, from the Scottish Highlands to the south Devon coast. The extensive schedule of classes for 2013 includes:

Botany Courses – Courses include studies of flowers, trees, grasses and grasslike plants, ferns, freshwater and wetland plants, lichens, fungi, general plants, mosses and liverworts. View Details/Register

Natural History Courses – Courses include studies of the natural world, birds and other animals, habitats and conservation. View Details/Register

Art Courses – Courses include painting, drawing, crafts (e.g. bookbinding), traditional skills (e.g., basketry), photography, archeology and botanical illustration. Get information about FSC botanical illustration courses online.

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Mandrake. Image courtesy of M. Moleiro Editor, S.A., all rights reserved

Mandrake. Image courtesy of M. Moleiro Editor, S.A., all rights reserved

The historic Tractatus de Herbis, codex Sloane 4016 can now be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the history of botany, botanical illustration or the history of medicinal plants.

The new facsimile reproduction has been published by Spanish publisher Moleiro Editorial whose specialty is the reproduction of codices, maps and works of art made on parchment, vellum, paper and papyrus between the 8th and 16th centuries.

The reproduction of Tractatus de Herbis features 218 illuminated pages and is bound in embossed dark green leather. It is an exact replica of the original and is accompanied by a volume of commentary written by Alain Touwaide, Smithsonian scholar and co-founder of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions.

Institute co-founder, Emanuela Appetiti, explains the significance of this historic work:

The manuscript Sloane 4016 is a large album of botany made sometime around 1440 in Italy. Although it is traditionally identified as a copy of the well-known Tractatus de herbis (Treatise on medicinal plants), it does not contain the text of this treatise, but only its illustrations. The major question posed by this manuscript is why it abandoned the text of the Tractatus, giving birth to the new genre of the botanical album. Significantly enough, the captions of the illustrations provide the names of the plants in the different languages used in the 15th century, all written with the Latin alphabet, however. They hint at the function of the botanical album as an international work that could be used by all the different linguistic groups, whereas the text of the Tractatus could be used only by those who understood Latin. In this view, the development of the botanical album is an unsuspected very modern phenomenon that sheds a completely new light on the history of botanical illustration and highlights a process of internationalization and, at the same time, of linguistic specialization coupled with a principle of economy that had not been uncovered so far.

Alain Touwaide explains more about the history of botanical albums in the description of the Tractatus de herbis, codex Sloan 4016 viewable on the publisher’s website.

Also available for viewing are 18 images showing the contents of this album. After reading Alain’s description, click on one of the images above his text. This will take you to a page where you can view all sample images.

Only 987 copies of this historic album are available for purchase worldwide. Alain’s commentary has been published in separate editions available in English, Spanish and French. To inquire about purchasing this limited edition reproduction at a special discounted price, contact the publisher.

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While at a science education conference, I learned about a resource that may interest you as you build that “big picture” about plants for students.

The Nutrients for Life Foundation is a nonprofit organization educating students and the public about the role fertilizers play in feeding the world. They created lesson plans for elementary, middle and high school students that can be used by classroom teachers and homeschool teachers. The foundation was created in 2004 by leaders in the fertilizer industry. According to the information in the Fall 2013 issue of Nutrients for Life, the Foundation’s magazine, representatives from the following companies serve as board members or as members on the advisory board: PotashCorp, Transammonia, The Fertilizer Institute, Intrepid Potash, Simplot, Koch Fertilizer LLC, Yara North America, Inc., The Mosaic Company, International Plant Nutrition Institute, Agium Inc., CF Industries, Inc., Florida Fertilzer & Agrichemical Association. The Foundation has regional representatives in Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Florida, Illinois and the Northwest. 

The Nutrients for Life Foundation’s campaign to educate the public about fertilizer is extensive. They have placed ads on trains, created recipe cards and have taken their message to the radio. They also sponsored a traveling exhibition about soil science that began its run at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum (July 19, 2008 – January 10, 2010).

The Foundation’s curriculum, Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century, is aligned to state standards and is available for free online. When downloading the lessons for your grade level, select your state to download the proper curriculum. Downloadable materials include lesson plans, pre- and post-tests and supply lists. Posters, bookmarks and other materials can also be ordered at no charge.

Visit the Nutrients for Life website to learn more about their soil science curriculum. You can view videos complementing their curriculum on YouTube. Here is a link to a video about a seed sorting activity for elementary school students. When you visit YouTube directly, search for videos by “Nutrients4Life”.


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The featured topic for November is Botany for All.

I know I spend a lot of time on botany resources for children. This month I am going to even it out some and bring attention to resources for teenagers, adults and families. We’ll begin the month with three wonderful resources that help children ages 3-8 learn about the life cycle of plants.

Also this month, you’ll notice a slight change to the publishing schedule. It will be lighter than normal and stay this way through December. I will continue to publish the teaching and learning column on Friday and will publish special features and other announcements when they are ready.

Thank you for being such dedicated readers, contributors and supporters of ArtPlantae.

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