Portable Botanical Educational Cases in Mexico
In the Botanical Garden of the National University of Mexico (UNAM), the demand for guided visits has increased to the point that we have had to devise new approaches to meet the public's need. One solution to this problem has been to work with school teachers so that they can guide their own classes independently. Unfortunately, Mexican teachers are over-worked and under-paid so that they are unable to invest extra time in special training. In order to meet the challenge of bringing to the Mexican children quality educational programmes related to plants and Mexican culture without overburdening their teachers, we have designed a series of portable educational cases.
Each educational case serves to aid the instructor in explaining and demonstrating the importance of plants in everyday life.
Each educational case includes original plant materials and processed products. These materials are accompanied by text and illustrative aids (e.g. slides, drawings) which are based upon academic bibliography and our own original research. The topics currently covered are flowers, seeds, fruits, candies, medicinal plants and spices and condiments.
Special emphasis is placed on botanical information related to cultural history in order to show the children the importance of their rich and long-lived cultural heritage, as well as the necessity of preserving the diverse biological resources in Mexico. It is our obligation to promote in the Mexican children a functional awareness of their dependence upon Nature.
The cases are designed to be self-contained and easily transported. With elementary school teachers in mind, the use of the case and explanations of the contents are self-explanatory. Printed material includes a manual, a set of flip charts, a glossary of scientific terms, a list of activities, a set of slides and a recommended bibliography. In addition to standard demonstration cards, each student is supplied with an individual work sheet and samples for his/her personal use. This system has been used in both urban and rural settings. We believe it is a very useful technique to stimulate teachers to promote the importance of botany in an informal way.