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ABOUT

Mindful Garden: Visualising the Unseen 

Mindful Garden helps children learn botany; the branch of science concerning plants, through explorative and interactive plant-based activities.

 

As an art-science multi-disciplinary project, it promotes fun and exciting hands on learning for children with botany through engagement with scientific processes and artistic visualisation. The aim is to explore plants through the senses and investigate the unseen using microscopes. 

Exhibited with Science+Media Museum, Sci-Tech Daresbury, Glastonbury Festival 2023, Sefton Palm House and Liverpool John Moores University.

AIMS

"fun is another word for learning"

Botany is an important branch of science that researches plant classification, properties and cell structure. Learning about plants is essential for understanding our natural world and is an example of a STEM subject. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM subjects are proven to help with obtaining transferable skills, increase employability and promote meaningful change, which puts emphasis on why it is important for children to learn Botany. More recently STEAM integrates art into STEM, as research suggests 57 percent of leaders value soft skills such as art more than hard skills. Likewise, Botany is a research subject that aids environmental care, and fits within the Green Sector. The Green Sector can be described as the "focus on restoring the natural environment", again supporting the argument why this project is so valuable for children. 

It is argued that traditional science education methods such as presentations within the classroom and textbooks can be disinteresting for children and lacks hands-on learning through seeing and doing. Interactive learning is about giving children an all-rounded experience by introducing real experience rather than focusing on the theoretical side. The idea behind interactive learning is about comprehending information rather than to memorise it, click here for more information. I am interested in finding out more about this, and hence my project, “Mindful Garden: Visualising the Unseen" was born. I have a passion for educating others about plants, and I argue we each should connect and interact with nature to understand the natural world that we live in. 

The aim of this project is to investigate through practice-based research whether plant-based activities can help children learn botany. Specifically, the project will focus on the effectiveness of running a drop in session using microscopes to visualise the unseen and explore plant samples through touch, sight and smell. This project aims to contribute to the development of effective science education methods for children and to support children's interest and knowledge in botany.

Objectives:

The objectives of this project are:

1. To develop an interactive plant-based activity that engages children in botany learning

2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the interactive plant-based activity in promoting children's learning of botany

3. To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the plant-based activity for potential future improvement

Project Development

Highlights 

January 2023

Mindful Garden is born to teach children Botany by founder Samantha Cooper as part of her practice-based research.

February 2023

Dr Rachael Symonds collaborates with the project. Dr Symonds has extensive plant knowledge to guide the molecular physiology aspect of the project.  ​

March 2023

Research visits including the World Museum and John Rylands Library. ​

April 2023

Samples of design work are produced including microscopic imagery and sample infographical zine.

May 2023

Enrolment on to a specialist Public Engagement course hosted by the Science+Media Museum. First school drop-in session "Meet the Scientist" teaching over 100 children at Science+Media Museum!​

June 2023

Mindful Garden exhibited at Daresbury Laboratory for interactive drop in session which allowed the project to interact with an impressive 9000+ visitors!

July 2023

Mindful Garden is exhibited at the Glastonbury Festival and recognised as an upcoming artist via the "Science not Fiction Exhibition"!

August 2023

Mindful Garden exhibits at the Bradford Science Festival with Science+Media Museum!

November 2023

Mindful Garden is selected at The Sefton Palm House to be part of the artist residency Bird Cage Programme!

December 2023

Collaboration with charity 4ward Futures to co-design an exhibition with local children. 

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