Botanical Knowledge of a Group of South Carolina Elementary School Students
Keywords:ethnobotany, ecoliteracy, environmental education, freelisting
AbstractWhat is the status of plant knowledge among elementary school children in South Carolina, and can informal botanical education experiences increase their interest in and knowledge about plants and their local environment? In a pre-test, fourth- and fifth-grade students (n=11) freelisted plant names and attempted to identify 60 plant photos. They freelisted an average of 30.9 ± 12.1 (mean ± standard deviation) items at different taxonomic levels and were able to identify approximately 33.7 ± 6.84% of plant pictures. Their ability to identify plants varied with usage categories, suggesting that while American children may not be familiar with native species, they do possess some culturally important knowledge. Students then spent two hours each week engaged in activities designed to spark their interest in plants and natural history. Post-assessments indicate increases in children’s knowledge of plant names, interest in nature, and awareness of the environment. This research has important implications for conservation, environmental education, and nature study programs.
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