Actively Engaging Student Visitors to Herbaria

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Not only are herbaria the foundation of botanical science, they are often the first, or even the only, access point students and visitors have to plant sciences. Maximizing learning outcomes is therefore consequential to providing our visitors with an understanding of what herbaria do, their importance in society, and how they will continue to play a critical role in answering scientific questions in the future. Given the vast set of collections that they hold, herbaria are rich in materials that can be used to engage visitors. We took advantage of herbarium collections and combined them with current pedagogical approaches to design a teaching module that achieved a set of goals and learning outcomes to actively engaged our visitors. The teaching module applied an inquiry-based method to answer scientific questions for visitors from K10 to sophomores in college. The module provided visitors with a firsthand experience investigating what herbaria are, why they are useful, what a herbarium sheet is and what data it contains, what the structures of a flower are, and the relationship of plants and animals in a plant’s life cycle. Visitors, therefore, self-discovered exactly why herbaria are important. We present the teaching module and provide resources for other herbaria to implement to engage their visitors, including a Power Point presentation, the student handout, take-home questions for teachers that follow Bloom's taxonomy, student learning outcomes and module goals, and additional resources for teachers to conduct follow-up exercises and further engage their students.


Botanical Society of America National Conference (BSA)


Rochester, MN