This week we spoke to the team at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to find out more about their school group offering, including how they grow everything from cocoa and bananas to a range of carnivorous plants!
Could I start by asking you for a brief overview of Birmingham Botanical Gardens and what you do?
"A Botanical Garden since 1832, we have spectacular climatic-themed glasshouses and 15 acres of landscaped gardens. We offer an educational visit like no other: experience an authentic rainforest adventure, then walk straight from the heat and humidity into an arid desert climate, where fascinating plant adaptations can be witnessed along the way. Then wander down to the newly-refurbished Alpine area to marvel at the beautiful flora found on the tundra. We also have; bird aviaries, a summer butterfly house, the National Bonsai Collection and an amazing adventure playground.
Could you describe a typical day at Birmingham Botanical Gardens for schools?
"Most groups arrive for when we open at 10am and usually go straight into one of our expertly-taught, cross-curricular teaching sessions. The rest of the day is then the group’s own, to explore and complete activities as they wish. We provide a covered space for lunch, though picnics in nice weather are more than welcome, and groups can then choose their own departure time to suit themselves. (The entire site, including our teaching spaces, have full disabled access.)
There are a lot of key curriculum subjects that can be covered with a trip to Birmingham Botanical Gardens, what are some of the most popular educational areas and activities?
"Our most popular teaching sessions involve us interactively; displaying how flowers grow and are pollinated, and teaching about tropical rainforests, as students can directly experience what they are learning. However, we also offer nearly 20 other teaching sessions that link to most other areas of the curriculum. Our teachings sessions all link to the National Curriculum and are all tailored to the age of the group visiting (we welcome nursery groups right through to post-16 students). We also welcome groups on a self-guided basis, if leaders would prefer to complete their own activities.
How exactly do you use a potato to tell the time?
"The stored energy within a potato (and other fruits and vegetables) can be transferred to electrical energy to power a digital clock. Our Sensational Science session allows groups to investigate how amazing plants really are.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a very unique experience that looks really fun. What are some of the most popular features with pupils?
"Children are fascinated by our carnivorous plant collection, the size of our Japanese Koi Carp, that we grow plants that they love to eat and drink (e.g. chocolate (cocoa), bananas, tea, coffee, kola nuts (Coca-Cola)), and that peacocks free-roam around the grounds. They also love to roll down the hill of our main lawn (if the weather is nice enough). They love learning about many of the fascinating adaptations that plants have evolved to allow them to survive in their particular habitat, and that we have many prize-winning, record-breaking and biologically-unique plants to explore.
Do you have any learning resources available?
"We have Activity Packs that can be hired for use during self-guided time and free resources are available from our website.
Do you offer any special rates or special offers for school groups?
"During our off-peak season (August to February), we offer groups the chance to experience any two of our teaching sessions for only £10 (one session - £7.40). We also welcome uniformed groups (e.g. scouts) and out-of-school clubs to the Gardens for educational visits outside of school hours at a reduced rate. Furthermore, during December, we offer a special Chocolate Fun teaching session, where groups learn about the history of chocolate (with plenty of tasters) before they experience the climate where chocolate (cocoa) grows.
Your website mentions that you offer a free pre visit for teachers, how does that work?
"When a visit to us is confirmed, we send an e-mail that permits the group leader and one colleague free entry to the Gardens to conduct a pre visit. This pre visit can be conducted at any time during Gardens’ opening hours.
If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how Birmingham Botanical Gardens can help you with planning your next school trip then why not get in touch here.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Why is white chocolate white but milk chocolate brown? Which plant makes both furniture and clothes? Which birds roam free around the grounds? Discover these answers and much more as you explore our spectacular glasshouses and beautiful gardens!
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