Cozza, John .
Exploring the tropics in NYC.
Community-based tropical greenhouses (such as those at many temperate universities) are tremendous resources for teaching and outreach. For 5½ years, I ran the Barnard College greenhouse in NYC as an oasis for biodiversity and education. Building biodiversity in the plant collection - we eventually had over 1000 taxa of plants in 130 families - greatly enhanced its usefulness for teaching. Through multiple approaches to learning, thousands of college students, faculty, staff, and local schoolchildren and teachers experienced tropical ecology, evolution, and ethnobotany without leaving the city. A tour of the plant collection featured stories and demonstrations of desert adaptations, carnivorous plants, epiphytes, plant behavior, pollination, and ethnobotany. Visitors were welcome to use all their senses: to smell and touch plants, and taste fruits and edible leaves. I customized the teaching collection for the introductory biology labs, and incorporated greenhouse visits into the curriculum. In-depth observations of micro-habitats, like the rainforest pond ecosystem with a complete food web, were encouraged. Hands-on activities like scavenger hunts, discovering plant family characteristics, and "Name that Plant" could be tailored to the needs of any class. The outreach program included collaborations with departments as diverse as Art and Alumni Affairs, horticulture workshops, special events, and visits by neighborhood school groups. We facilitated student and faculty research, and observed biological control and emergent properties of the greenhouse environment in action. Our greenhouse was a NYC hot spot, but its stories and teaching techniques are widely adaptable to greenhouses, gardens, and diverse audiences anywhere. I welcome discussion about the exciting possibilities of community-based greenhouses.
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1 - University of Miami, Department of Biology, Po Box 249118, Coral Gables, Florida, 33124, USA
greenhouse, NYC, public outreach, teaching.
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 9:15 AM