Education Outreach Unit at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK
Volume 1 Number 9 - July 1994
The work of the Mobile Education Unit at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K. began in October 1993. The aim of the Unit is to provide outreach education to schools about plants and their potential for environmental education and the work of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Target schools include those unable to visit Kew and those unaware of the resources that exist at Kew.
Deciding on the Programme
In developing this new programme the education staff at Kew felt more emphasis needed to be placed on schools, both locally and further afield, that were not benefitting from the resources available. The reasons identified for this were varied and included; insufficient support for outside visits, limited understanding of the value of plant based teaching and disabilities of the pupils. To address these issues and to promote environmental education across the curriculum, an outreach programme was seen as a suitable development of Kew's core education programme.
The Unit, built to Kew's specification, is 7 meters in length. Staffed by one full-time teacher, Sharon Hughes, the Unit is towed by a Landrover. It incorporates an open stage area to one side, study benches, video, TV and slide projection facilities, laboratory equipment and a small specialised library which is changed frequently to compliment particular themes. Plant-based artifacts and live plant material are carried in the Unit to support the Economic Botany focus of the education programmes.
Working in Collaboration
The work of the Unit will support and highlight the Botanic Garden Education Network in the U.K. It will encourage schools to investigate resources at their local botanic garden, aiming to raise the understanding of international conservation through development education and to set up local Agenda 21 initiatives, through addressing local conservation issues. By highlighting the uses and importance of the school grounds and the local built environment, opportunities will present themselves for community involvement.
The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew is currently producing a schools' pack called "Plants Across the Curriculum". The aim of the pack, which will be given free to all schools using the Unit, will be to encourage schools to use their local botanic gardens and to develop teaching activities through plant based information. The pack will contain teaching activities and resources, including slides of all the plants featured in the Unit. It will promote knowledge and uses of plants common to the local environment of city schools from around the world and will emphasise the multicultural relevance of plants within all aspects of the school curriculum.
About the Author
This is an exciting time for the project. I would like to hear from anyone who has any ideas for the project or would like to work in partnership with the project as it develops.
Les Jardins botaniques de Kew, en Grande Bretagne, ont développé un nouveau programme extérieur au Jardin, pour les écoles, impliquant une Unité d'éducation mobile. Le but de cette unité est de rendre l'éducation sur les plante plus accessible aux écoles dans l'impossibilité de visiter Kew et de mettre l'accent sur l'éducation environnementale basée sur le végétal.
El Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Reino Unido) ha desarrollado un nuevo programa puertas afuera para los colegios que comprende una Unidad Móvil de Educación. El objetivo de la unidad es que la enseñanza de las plantas sea más asequible a los colegios que no pueden visitar Kew y hacer hincapié sobre el valor de la educacián ambiental basada en las plantas.
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