On Saturday the 15th of March the Tropical Biodiversity Glasshouse project had the pleasure of hosting families from the Talfourd Avenue group. They kindly agreed to come test our new (and hopefully improved) glasshouse tour, which was designed and created as part of my third year project in ‘teaching, learning and outreach’ and is specifically aimed at children in Key Stage 1 and 2.
It was all hands on deck when the families arrived and we had a host of brilliant helpers to make sure everyone had a wonderful afternoon. Ann Westgarth had once again been an amazing help organizing the health and safety assessment as well as giving up her Saturday to come along and supervise (and also taking some great pictures!). Alastair of course gave his usual enthusiastic and fascinating talk on all the incredible species inside the Glasshouse and literally ‘brought down the house’ when the pink furry banana came crashing down during an exciting demonstration with the children! Special thanks must also go to Tom and Sabrina whose keen eyes made sure everyone stayed safe.
When the families arrived at the Glasshouse everyone was decked out in their explorers gear including hats and jute bags containing all sorts of goodies to investigate the plants with, and so, with their special ‘passports’ in hand, we all made our way into the unknown of the glasshouse.
Next up came an activity involving all the senses as ginger, turmeric and lemongrass were dug up and passed around for everyone to smell and examine and some sugar cane stems were also distributed as a sweet treat! Everyone also had the chance to look at the eye catching new ‘star profiles’ of the key species in the glasshouse. These tell you a bit more about some of the tropical plants and have some amazing facts about their features, uses and history.
The children were particularly fascinated by the ‘unsinkable’ plants and were up to their elbows in the pond. Luckily, the Zebra danios seemed to enjoy all the food being shaken free! Then after a particularly yucky look at the flies laying eggs in the Cavendish banana we went to look at the less fortunate ones trapped in the carnivorous plants. Everyone loved the slimy Butterworts!
After the talk the children were passed a new, jazzy worksheet each and settled down in the sun for the real work to begin!
The children all had an excellent go at the worksheets, for such a beautiful day there was a lot of focus in that glasshouse! After this everyone grabbed an iPad and had a go at creating their own tropical jungle noises, an activity that everyone really enjoyed. Then there was a bit of time for some free exploring before we ventured into Harborne for some well earned tea and squash, but not before all the brave explorers had received their awards for completing the tour! I hope they serve as a great reminder of a wonderful day.
A big thanks must of course to the families of Talfourd Avenue for coming and being our guinea pigs. I hope you had as much of a great time as we did hosting you! And of course again to everyone who gave up their Saturday to come help out. I hope this is the first of many more trips to come!