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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Doubt, Jennifer [1], Kilian, Maggie [2].

Bringing flat plants to life: An education-science collaboration in hands-on botany at the National Herbarium of Canada.

Engaging diverse communities in botany collections and research increases the public value of herbaria and the work they support, and develops collective appreciation for our home landscapes and ecosystems. How can we achieve this, however, when most collection and research activities do not take place in public spaces? Substantial collections and exciting field research characterize many botanical institutions, but even in public museums and botanical gardens, the community often remains unaware of these important resources and activities, and of their significance to its interests. Through close collaboration between education and science specialists, we drew on the strengths of the National Herbarium of Canada – an active, multi-disciplinary botany collection - and the public venue of the Canadian Museum of Nature to develop a growing, flexible model of public engagement with real botanical science. Based at a collaboratively-designed, modest and portable public outreach station, Botany's ‘Science in Action’ provides a forum to test, implement, and evaluate projects that engage museum visitors in experiences relating to field collection, specimen preparation, and botanical discovery. The weekly program creates opportunities to connect with new visitors at all ages and levels of interest, and adapts readily to changing themes (e.g. feature exhibitions, seasons). At the same time, consistent program components provide continuity and emphasize the central role of collection-based learning in botany, and in the appreciation of natural history. Co-led by staff and volunteers, Botany’s ‘Science in Action’ activities also enrich learning for students and enthusiasts that help to deliver the program, and offers occasions to recruit new team members for rewarding behind-the-scenes roles of which they may otherwise have been unaware. ‘Science in Action’ also helps to fill another never-ending collection need: authentic specimens for the National Herbarium are prepared at the station each week. Through those who are most passionate about the exploration encapsulated and made possible by an enormous plant library, ‘Science in Action’ links herbarium science with the public, fostering inspiration, ideas and participation.

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1 - Canadian Museum of Nature, PO Box 3443 Stn D, Ottawa, ON, K1P 6P4, Canada
2 - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, UK

authentic research
public engagement

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 34
Location: Salon 9/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 9:30 AM
Number: 34007
Abstract ID:981
Candidate for Awards:None

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