Posted in BGANZ, Botanic Garden, school holiday programme

Spring into the school holidays

Looking for ideas for school holiday programmes? Maybe there’s an activity on this programme you’d like to recreate. If you’d like more details on a specific activity, let me know in the comments and I’d be very happy to create a step-by-step blog post on it.

Spring poster

Posted in Botanic Garden, Interpretation, school holiday programme

Science and Art


As with any Botanic Gardens, we offer a wide range of educational activities across a variety of age ranges. Some are more successful and/or popular than others. When you look at the community education activities that are most popular – regardless of age – odds on they include a blend of art and science.

Despite popular opinion that one is either an arty person or a science nerd, there has long been a close association between the two disciplines. Both art and science are ways in which humans investigate and explore their environment in an attempt to understand and describe the world around us. Scientists and artists may use different methodologies and appeal to different audiences, but the motivations and goals are essentially the same.

In fact, science and art has a long history of successful collaboration. The ancient Greek word for art was techne, from which the words technique and technology are derived—terms that are equally applicable to both scientific and artistic practices.

It’s not difficult to blend science and art to create an activity that is both informative and creative. Here’s a selection of activities we run that have proven consistently popular with our visitors.

The School Holiday Activity ‘Seed Stories – Botanical Boats’ is part of an educational series designed to teach children (4 to 13) about the nature and function of seeds and how plants disperse their seed. This particular activity focuses on plants that use water for seed dispersal. After learning the ‘science’, participants put their creative talents to work creating boats from natural materials – using a Castanospermum austral seed pod as the boat hull. The boats are then tested for their ‘sea-worthiness’ in one of our small waterways.

seed boat

Make a botanical boat from seed pods.

In the ‘Painting Rare Local Flora’ workshop, we encourage people to get up close and personal with some of Brisbane’s unique, rare plants (eg Corchorus cunninghamii). The species chosen can vary from workshop to workshop, but involve participants seeing the plants in real life and then learning about their distribution, habitat and status. Choosing one rare species to paint – following the artistic style of William Morris – workshop participants use pattern and repetition to create a colourful design of leaves, flowers and fruit.

Corcorus mandala

William Morris inspired artwork featuring Corchorus cunninghamii.

‘Bugs in the Gardens’ is another popular School Holiday Activity – a version of which I am sure appears in every Botanic Garden’s activity line-up. The ‘science’ looks at identifying arthropods and understanding their life cycles. It includes a hunt around the gardens to collect and examine any poor, unsuspecting species minding their own business crawling, flying, swimming and burrowing in the ponds and garden beds. Using the real life specimens they observe, participants then select from a range of natural materials (leaves, nuts, twigs, berries and seeds) and use clay or hot glue (whichever is more age appropriate) to create their very own arthropod to take home.


How many legs and body parts are there in an arthropod?

In the ‘Art of the Leaf’ workshop, participants learn about the purpose and function of leaves. They look closely at a range of leaf characteristics, such as shape, margins, venation and texture and investigate the processes of photosynthesis and transpiration. The characteristics of the leaves themselves determine their artistic interpretation. Participants can create intricate filigree designs or simpler, linear patterns from cutting out sections of leaf from around the leaf veins. These are then mounted on heavy cardstock for framing and can be further embellished with stitched wool, beads and sequins.

leaf art


So as you can see, art and science are not mutually exclusive endeavours – they exist as a fabulous, collaborative synergy. Although it’s possible to run the scientific component of these activities as a practical, hands-on and purely scientific task – the fun and positive energy involved in doing it as a creative task, ensures that the participants have a positive memory of the science, as well as a lasting reminder to take home.





Posted in school holiday programme

Native Plant Survival Challenge

Learn about native plants while you have fun!

A great school holiday programme activity is a native plant survival challenge. We simply pick a selection of specific native plants (or print some photos of certain ones if we can’t get hold of  them e.g. flowers or fruit depending on the time of the year). These native plants are laid out on a table, and kids with their families have to match which plants are used for which activities in the bush. E.g. Rangiora leaves (Brachiglottis) is used as toilet paper – which as you can imagine the kids love to learn.

Native plant survival challengeWe set up six sets of the same activity to handle large numbers of people.

native plant challenge layout

At the end of the challenge, kids are encouraged to draw a picture of what they would take into the bush, which we then add to a portfolio they leave with us, or take home with them.

Kids and parents alike love learning about how useful native plants are, and always enjoy this activity as a family. It’s simple, cheap (we created the cards once and use them repeatedly) and a wonderful way to enthuse visitors about plants.

Posted in Botanic Garden, school holiday programme

Spring school holiday programme

We’ve got some fun activities planned for the upcoming school holidays. We’ve created a mixture of bookable workshops and drop-in activities to ensure a wide range of styles within the programme as well as to reach different audiences.

We are using a blend of staff, volunteers and external providers to assist with offering the programme. All advertising has been through free media so it will be interesting to see what numbers of participants we have.

What are your plans for school holiday programmes?school-holiday-poster

Posted in blog, guided walk, school holiday programme, survey

Why we love surveys

We survey all of our visitors at every event we run, from guided walks to workshops, displays and school holiday programmes. We then use this information to change the way we do things at future events, or to keep doing things our visitors are loving! We luckily have a lovely volunteer who does all of our data entry for us. Continue reading “Why we love surveys”