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Classtime at the Conservatory

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San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers Launches its Brand New School Program

SAN FRANCISCO - Calling all junior scientists! Put those exploding volcanos down and get over to San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers for some awesome jungle adventure and an important lesson in survival. Starting October 12, 2004, The Conservatory launches its first ever curriculum-based education program for school children entitled "Adaptation: Plant Survivors." Like a virtual journey to the steamy Amazon River Basin, this is one 'hot' field trip that no kid will want to miss.

Designed for third and fourth graders, "Adaptation: Plant Survivors" introduces students to the amazing survival techniques plants have developed. The Conservatory's weird and wonderful tropical plants make great case studies. Students will encounter the giant Amazon water lily that grows tough thorns on its underside to ward off hungry pirahnas. Then there's the Asian Pitcher Plant that makes up for growing in poor soil by digesting any unfortunate insects that fall into its alluring, but deadly pitchers. Students will also get a chance to find out what some of their favorite sweet treats like vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon look like "in the wild."

"Adaptation: Plant Survivors" has been carefully designed to correspond with California State standards in Life Sciences, Earth Science, Writing, Math and more, as well as the San Francisco Unified School District's new textbooks. Students will have opportunities to work with real tools of the trade to measure temperature and humidity in the galleries, recording their findings and hypotheses in a take-home field notebook. The notebook serves as not only a cool research tool, but the explorer's own personal journal. Back in the classroom, teachers can use the data collected in the notebooks and the Conservatory's post visit materials to deepen and extend the students' experience of the tropics.

"A trip to the Conservatory is one of the most immersive learning experiences kids can get," says Lisa Van Cleef, educational consultant. "The climate differences in each of the galleries makes an immediate impact. Children will really get the concept of "adaptation" as they observe plants thriving in these distinctive environments."

"Adaptation: Plant Survivors" is free to all visiting classes, and the Conservatory hopes that all of the available slots will fill quickly. Like every San Francisco school child's yearly visit to other landmark institutions such as The Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory hopes that a visit to its tropical galleries becomes a new school tradition.

The program takes 75 minute to complete and is offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from October 12, 2004 through June 16, 2005. All programs begin at 10 a.m. Third and fourth grade teachers can make reservations by calling (415) 666-7001.

Conservatory of Flowers Background
Opened in 1879, The Conservatory of Flowers is a spectacular living museum of rare and beautiful tropical plants housed in the oldest existing wood and glass greenhouse in the Western Hemisphere. The recently rehabilitated Conservatory is designated as a city, state and national historic landmark and was one of the 100 most endangered sites of the World Monuments Fund. From Borneo to Bolivia, the 1500 species of plants at the Conservatory represent unusual flora from more than 50 countries around the world. Immersive displays in five galleries include the lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants and special exhibits.

For more information, call (415) 666-7001 or visit www.conservatoryofflowers.org.