Plants in Our Lives

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In this topic, from the Association for Science Education, students learn about the many products obtained from local plants. The topic is designed to allow classes in schools across the world to exchange information about the ways in which their lives depend on plants. The topic also provides opportunities for students to identify local plants and the products obtained from them.

Students investigate how plant use has changed over time within their community. They may also make a simple herbal beauty or health product. Students explore the ‘supply chain’ for plant products. The concept of sustainable development is introduced and students use the ‘development compass’ to ask questions and explore issues relating to the natural environment, economics and society. Students can investigate plant protection laws in their country and explore how the laws were made, how effective they are and how they are perceived by the local community. Students consider how pressures in their community might affect its plants and biodiversity.

Students may also choose an area of land in their school or local community and design a real or imaginary ‘garden’. The garden design may include plants for survival throughout the year, plants and habitats that are under threat in the local area, or plants that are important in the history and folklore of the local area. After exchanging their findings and views with students in other countries, students compare and discuss the responses received from classes in other parts of the world.

This topic fits into the biology curriculum. It links closely to geography, design technology, sustainable development education and citizenship. It provides an excellent opportunity for addressing the global dimension and sustainable development. In most countries it is suitable for students aged 12–16. It is available in English, Spanish and German.

There are still schools making active use of Science Across the World topics and exchanging ideas and information. For details visit the Science Across the World pages of the ASE web site.

This is one of a series of Plants topics developed as part of Gardens for Life which was funded by the UK Department for International Development, Creative Partnerships, Syngenta Foundation, DfES, Cisco Foundation and Future Harvest.

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