Field day for children at the Ecole Française des Seychelles


20-February-2012

Children taking part in the activityBut for the pupils at the Ecole Française des Seychelles, one day last week was a very exciting one because it was a day when lessons were held outside the classrooms.

The project was to collect all the different kinds of plants that they have on the school compound.

It involved children from the ages of 3 to 10 years and, in the end, the aim was to make a herbarium, which is like a book of dried plants which will be used as a reference to help the pupils learn more about these plants -- why are plants important, what do we get from them, and how do we recognise and differentiate them.

The youngest pupils -- 3 to 5 years old -- collected the plants and gave them to their teachers. Later, in class, we described together the plants, their colours, shapes, smells, but there were so many things the children had to say about plants in general.

As for the children aged 6 to 10, they made their own personal herbarium in an exercise book .They collected some plants and organised them just like professionals do, i.e. they wrote the plants name, numbered their collections, providing information on the date, the location and a small description of their plants. The pupils were supervised by two botanists of the Seychelles Natural History Museum with the help of the teachers. Most pupils were very enthusiastic to collect plants and we showed them how to do it properly, without damaging the plants and being respectful.

In addition, the children also helped the two visiting botanists to compile a more complete and detailed collection for the school as a whole. The small herbarium created for the school holds about 80 plant species, including a few natives and also some exotic invasive species.

If this activity is repeated every year it may eventually constitute a good basis for an introduction to plant science at school. Even in the limited area of the school, the list of species and the small herbarium are not complete. We may have missed some small plants, some could disappear during the next year or, on the contrary, colonise the school, or spread. Finally, we hope some pupils will develop a passion for plants and for plant knowledge and will continue to fill their personal herbarium with the plants of their gardens.

And if help is needed to find the name of these plants, the staff of the museum is there to help.

We would like to thank the Small Grant Programmes (SGP) for their support in these outreach activities organised by the museum. We are also very grateful to the Ecole Française des Seychelles for their initiative and we hope to see soon some of the pupils coming to visit us at the museum.

Nicole Labiche-Barreau
Natural History Museum

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