At the herbarium we are committed to various outreach projects, as it is fundamental to share the comprehensive and diverse collection of both herbarium specimens and living specimens we have on our award-winning campus, with the local community.
As part of their 3rd year undergraduate studies, many students choose to undertake a project which aims to engage in the local community, in many cases assisting with teaching in both primary and secondary schools.
'Creating a tour of the University of Reading Tropical Biodiversity Glasshouse appropriate for children in Key Stage 1 and 2 and their guardians.'
by Francesca Suddaby.
"As part of my final project for my three year B.Sc. in Zoology I have been designing a tour for the University's Tropical Biodiversity glasshouse for children at Key Stage One and Two. The tour is intended to be complementary to the original tour given by Dr Alastair Culham, and also to specifically target the most frequent visitors to the glasshouse; children and their families, or school groups."
"The design is based around independent learning and that the children will immerse themselves more in the material by using all their senses; smelling, touching, tasting and looking at the plants and also a listening activity. We also invite the children to get into role and become 'explorers' to give the visit a tangible purpose. This also provides a fun element as each child will be given a hat and a special 'explorers kit' for the duration of the tour. The 'tools' will help the children complete the accompanying worksheet which is firmly anchored to the correct curriculum for the Key Stage 1-2 age group."
"The aim for the completed tour is to encourage further visits and cement ourselves as a valuable teaching resource for local schools and families in Reading and surrounding area."
'Evaluation and redesign of a website for the University of Reading herbarium (RNG) using a Web Content Management System (webCMS)'
by Thomas Marks.
"My final year project has been the redesign of the herbarium RNG website, which has had minimal updates since it's launch in the late 90's."
"Despite not being a 'typical' undergraduate project for a student studing Biological Sciences, this project has giving me the opportunity to work with a diverse range of people, from Schools and Departments across the University, in a way no 'typical' project would do."
"The initial idea was to create a website that was appealing, up-to-date, as well as being usable and accessible to all users. It has also given the herbarium staff the chance to provide up-to-date information about the herbarium and it's activities, in a hope that it both the herbarium and the website will attract more visitors from both academia, and the local community."
Reading in Bloom School's Challenge
Recently, the university hosted the Reading in Bloom School's Challenge, which incorporated a tour of our tropical greenhouse for all of the finalists, prizes of lavender plants, as well as a family apple tree for the overall winners, presented by The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, as well as our own Dr Mark Fellowes, Head of Biological Sciences here at the University of Reading.
During their tour of the greenhouse, the school children were challenged to think about familiar foods and what plants they might come from, as well as being offered the chance to touch and smell the plants, and even taste some of them.