The Key West Botanical Garden’s Education Department Continues to Make Science Come Alive Through Field Based Experiences

The Key West Botanical Garden’s Education Department will continue to educate and transform the lives of children, teachers, and families in our community. The Education Department’s award winning program is known for its unique, hands-on, experiential learning programs that use the Key West Botanical Garden as an outdoor classroom and educational center. The program encompasses pre-kindergarten children to high school grade students in the middle and lower keys of Monroe County.

The Living Laboratory is the cornerstone of the environmental education program. It is a partnership between the Monroe County School District and the Garden which serves Kindergarten through 5th grade students. The mission of the Living Laboratory is to create environmentally conscious learners through thought provoking, conservation-minded lessons which are strictly aligned to the Florida Sunshine State Standards. By absorbing science principles in the unique, bio-diverse environment of the Garden, students formulate connections which can be applied to their own lives and realize how through conservation they can make a difference This program continues to change the student’s attitudes about the value of natural, cultural, and historical resources.

Environmental education programs are also being offered to children 5 and under. Our Seedling Science program is offered to students enrolled in Head Start, Voluntary Pre-kindergarten programs, non-profit organizations, and pre-schools. It encourages children to explore, learn, and grow while experiencing the wonders of the natural world through storytelling, hands-on activities, and exploration in the botanically-rich garden.

Monroe County middle school students will have the opportunity to participate in our 3rd annual “Go Green!” Science Fair. This event brings our young scientists together to share their innovative and creative eco- friendly projects. Students in grades 6-8 invent or improve products or processes to increase the use of energy, find ways to use renewable resources or recycled items, all while decreasing the impacts on our environment and encouraging conservation. Saturday Science programs are also being offered where students can complete descriptive research on plant and animal interactions in the Garden. Additionally, middle school students have been participating in service learning opportunities where they are engaged in plant propagation projects and learning about our local ecosystem.

High School students are being offered an after-school Environmental Garden Club. Students will become community advocates for the environment, participating in peer-to-peer outreach activities and planting trees. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about our native flora and fauna through opportunities to work side by side with experts in the science field.

Seasonal events such as Migration Mania will take place in the Spring. Migration Mania’s goal is to link students, wildlife and biodiversity through conservation activities and environmental programs that fosters an appreciation of wildlife, conservation, flora and fauna and related natural resources. The weekend will offer age appropriate educational activities, speakers, children’s games, presentations, crafts, and animal encounters that foster an awareness, knowledge and appreciation of our natural resources and environment.

The upcoming event “Screaming Green Halloween” is from 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at the Botanical Garden and will incorporate the entire grounds. Candy stations will be set up throughout the garden, allowing children to come in costume and hunt for tricks or treats! A number of interactive activities and crafts will be offered in conjunction with the anticipated treats. We will also have a costume competition, bounce house, games, food and more. Come join us for this family fun event. Admission: Members $5 for the family or $5 a child / $10 for the family for non-members.

We would like to thank the Dogwood Foundation for continued support of our program and Monroe County School District for matching our grant funds by providing transportation to get our students to the Garden.

Courtesy Key West Citizen