Gardening: Weeding, watering and...wikis?

The Michigan 4-H Children's Garden will soon be offering several wikis for kids to use to report and share their plant-related, science-based activities and discoveries.

The Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden will soon be offering several wikis for kids to use to report and share their plant-related, science-based activities and discoveries. The “New” Plant Database, Experiments, Featured Plant and Featured Garden wikis are part of the garden’s Collaborating Classrooms program, while the Lettuce Experiment wiki is part of the garden’s Seeds of Science program.

According to Norm Lownds, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Horticulture and curator of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, wikis are being used to allow individual students or groups of students in classrooms, after-school groups and 4-H clubs to collaborate on plant-related experiments in a virtual space on the Web. Youth from across Michigan and even outside the state can “meet” in the wiki to compare results, suggest ideas or share success stories.

These wikis are currently being tested at Sibley Elementary in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hollin Meadows Elementary in Alexandria, Va.; the American Horticultural Society; several schools in the Lansing, Mich. area and one school in Indiana. Once the testing is complete, the wikis will be available to any youth or youth group interested in learning about plants.

“We have to utilize technology to enhance and expand hands-on learning and activities,” said Lownds. “Technology is part of our kids’ everyday lives, and we have to elegantly integrate it into the science discoveries and explorations that we do in the garden or as part of a 4-H club’s or classroom’s activities.”

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