Connectem Recerca i Aula Project
The EscoLab initiative, promoted by Barcelona Ciència i Universitats by the Barcelona City Council, encourages research centres to get closer to students of different ages. For some years now, the Botanical Institute of Barcelona (IBB) has been participating in the projects promoted by EscoLab and this academic year 2021-2022 has developed the Plantarum project (within the framework of the Connectem Recerca i Aula project) with 14-15 year old students from the Escola Sagrat Cor Diputació in Barcelona.
On the 5th, 6th and 7th October, the Connectem Recerca i Aula training course was held, bringing together researchers, teachers and science communication professionals. The course served to bring the three professional profiles into contact with each other and to devise educational projects that would bring research centres and schools closer together to develop activities adapted to the school curriculum. IBB research support technicians Lydia Bakigianni, Mª Luisa Gutiérrez and Roi Rodríguez, together with communication technician Inés Fuentes, were in contact with Marta Ros, a teacher at the Sagrat Cor Diputació school. And, at the end of the course, they had designed the Plantarum project, which aims to raise awareness of the uses and applications of plants among 14-15 year old students.
The project began with a first session in the classroom where the students played games to learn about the uses and applications of plants in our daily lives. Afterwards, they came to the IBB for a visit where they had the opportunity to learn more about the research we carry out and visit the Botanical Garden. They also had the opportunity to visit the BC Herbarium and the Salvador family’s cabinet, which houses the naturalistic work carried out by this lineage of apothecaries and botanists between the 18th and 19th centuries, with the help of its curator, Dr. Neus Ibáñez.
Back in the school, the pupils applied what they had learnt during their visit. First, they drew up surveys like those used by ethnobotanical researchers in their work and passed them on to their families and friends, thus carrying out their own fieldwork. In subsequent sessions, they compiled a list of the most frequently repeated species and collected information on them: scientific name, traditional uses, names in different languages, etc. Once this work was done, IBB staff validated the good work done by the students and helped them to choose the most suitable species for planting.
The final phase of the project sought to promote the dissemination of the work carried out by the students. To this end, the participants planted seeds of some of the chosen species (which also allowed them to closely observe the different stages of plant development) and the rest of the species that were outside the growing season were acquired. At the same time, the students of the technology elective made mobile displays to transport the chosen plants. This way, and with the trolleys full of plants, classmates from other courses were able to learn more about the world of plants and ethnobotany.
The Plantarum project not only highlights the value of the research carried out at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona, but also manages to create links with the youngest members of the public, making it a vehicle for the transmission of knowledge to take root in our society.