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Students at Gulf Elementary to host nature center tours; Reflects class lessons

By Staff | May 14, 2008

At the end of this week, the gifted classes at Gulf Elementary School will be hosting a “Talk and Tour” session to celebrate a unit they recently completed on botany — a branch of biology involving the study of plants.

On Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the students will showcase what they learned throughout the unit in a nature center behind the school. Starting in the morning, the gifted students will take other kindergarten to fifth-grade classes on 15-minute tours through the nature center.

“This is a celebration for botany,” said Liz Olancin, the teacher for the gifted programs at Gulf Elementary.

For the unit, the students studied pond life, the use of spices, edible and medicinal plants and certain species including exotic fruits, water lilies, the derivation of mulch and other topics.

“Water lilies have been in our pond for the last decade,” said Olancin.

She also explained how some wildlife is living in the school’s nature center, including two snakes that live in the pond. The classes also studied appropriate technology, which Olancin said centers around farmers in the developing world.

A Web site that will be accessible on Thursday was also created by the students to include activities, coloring books and matching games related to botany.

There will also be personal tours for other students and parents led by the gifted classes who organized the event. The tour will include two touch-screen monitors for students with disabilities to take a virtual tour of the center, and gifted tour guides will use MP3 players with portable speakers to explain more about botany.

“They have MP3s with portable speakers with pre-recorded information they made,” said Olancin.

Other classes at Gulf Elementary have signed up to take one of the guided tours on Friday, but not all of the 1,200 students will be able to attend. Through the rest of the school year, however, teachers will give additional tours through the center, said Olancin.

The event will also include an outside gazebo acting as a classroom and a picnic area next to a Zen garden. Lunch will be provided by participating students and their parents at noon.

“Students will give a personal tour, they did the Web site and created a map of the nature center,” said Olancin.