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Wandersee, James H. [1], Clary, Renee M. [2].

A Study of the New 'Climbers and Creepers' Interactive Botanical Play Zone for Children at the Royal Botanic Gardens--Kew.

BSA seeks improved informal public education about plants. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew [RBG-K] is an acknowledged leader in informal plant science education. Arguably, one of the most revered botanical institutions in the world, with over a million visits per year, the role of education at Kew is "to increase public knowledge and understanding of the value and vital importance of plants." To that end, and as a botanical education innovator, in late 2004 RBG-K opened "the UK's First Interactive Botanical Play Zone," within and outside a former cycad glasshouse located near the Orangerie. Called Climbers and Creepers, it encompasses 1,163 square meters. It is intended to be an enjoyable as well as educational attraction for children, aged 3 to 9, and their caretakers. Our qualitative, on-site visitor experience study conducted in January 2005 reports our direct observations of the targeted age group and analyzes their opportunities to learn about plants, in light of the facility's five foundational scientific principles. Triangulated data that are used to summarize the strengths and weakness of this path-breaking project include: conversations with visitors, observational field notes and photo documentation, visitors' expressed thoughts as entered into the comment book, existing interpretive signage, the facility's design book, and the integrated Climbers and Creepers website. The product of this learning research is a basic botanical play zone [BPZ] design model that may be used by others who wish to construct such a facility and who wish to benefit from and improve upon RBG-K's valuable vanguard project. Multiple and integrated sets of design recommendations comprise our BPZ Model. Notes: We acknowledge the assistance of RBG-K's staff with our scholarly study. Our use of the Climbers and Creepers data is with the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


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1 - Louisiana State University, Dept. of Curric. & Instr., 15-Degree Laboratory, Room 223-F Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70803, USA
2 - University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Dept. of Geology, Box 44530, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70504, USA

Keywords:
botanical education
botanic garden
botanical play zone
informal science education
interactive website
opportunity to learn
qualitative research
science concept learning.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 6-5
Location: 400/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 10:30 AM
Abstract ID:475


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