Educators Smithsonian Education
Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation
Getting Started

The lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom introduce the work of botanists and botanical illustrators, specifically their race to make records of endangered plant species around the world. “Very little of the world’s flora has been fully studied,” says one Smithsonian botanist, “and time is running out.”

In the first lesson, students gets to know six endangered plants. They examine illustrations, photographs, and dried specimens of the plants as they consider this question: If a scientist can take a picture of a plant, are there advantages in having an illustration? They go on to consider some of the big questions that botanists themselves must ask: Which of these species are most in need of conservation efforts? Are any of these plants more worth saving than others?

In the second lesson, the students try their own hands at botanical illustration, following the methods of a Smithsonian staff illustrator. All that is required for the lesson are pencils, markers, tracing paper, and access to a photocopier.

Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation cover Download "Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation" Lesson Plan (PDF).
Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation materials Download Activity Materials for Lesson 1 of the Lesson Plan (PDF).
Gary Krupnick
Alice Tangerini
Watch "A Natural History Approach to Plant Study and Conservation" with Gary A. Krupnick, Ph.D., Head of the Plant Conservation Unit, and Alice Tangerini, Staff Scientific Illustrator at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History from the 2011 Smithsonian Education Conference: Study the Land. Access session recordings, teaacher and student communities, and related resources from this session.
Alice Tangerini Illustration Listen to "To the Drawing Board, " a special podcast with scientific illustrator Alice Tangerini.
Losing Paradise website Check out "Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World," a traveling and online exhibition organized by the American Society of Botanical Artists in collaboration with the Smithsonian (contains videos of both Gary and Alice who appear in this lesson).
Required Materials

Download the Complete Lesson PDF

Download Activity Materials for Lesson 1
Botany and Art and Their Roles in Conservation

Smithsonian in Your Classroom is produced by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Teachers may duplicate the materials for educational purposes.

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