The great outdoors

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Angels Moragues, Jean Ichter/ botanist-ecologists , Elodie Renouard/ botanist-landscaper, Sabine Beutin/ botanist

Project manager: Mathieu Marion

 

Objectives:
How do plants relate to one another and how do they interact with their surroundings? To shed light on these questions and many others, the students become botanists. They catalogue the various developments and interactions that take place within a single environment, observing the “actors” and different mechanisms, then expand on their observations by creating an area that can develop significant biodiversity.

Workshop: 
Urban nature
By observing a plot, the group is confronted with the notion of biodiversity. For this, the contributor allocates the group with an area close to the school and helps the students define the nature of this “environment”: soil, exposure, water flow, height of vegetation, etc. The students then have to share out a collection protocol to identify the number of plant species there. Once samples have been taken, some will be drawn, described and photographed.

Participative research
The class moves from field observation to “laboratory” observation with the study of the catalogued specimens. The students learn to conserve them (cutting, drying and placing them in a herbarium). The contributor then explains how to describe them precisely, taking into account the guidelines available from the Natural History Museum portal. This is a crucial stage and the students need to be extremely meticulous. The aim is to transmit qualitative and quantitative information to the research scientists at the Museum to improve the database of the county’s flowers.

Experimental garden
The project then enters a resolutely experimental phase. After observing the “actors” and different mechanisms of an existing plot, the students have to expand the process by making something lasting using vegetation. They have to design a living environment (plot, green wall or green roof) capable of developing significant biodiversity: managing weeds, making seeds germinate, layout plan, specificity of the zone, etc.

Outcome:
In June, each class inaugurated its experimental garden. The students were able to explain their selection of plants and the interactions they wanted to display. With this presentation, parents and members of the school enjoyed the sensory experience of what the class had learned during this project.  

 

Outings:
- OBSERVATION SESSIONS, PARC DE LA HAUTE-ILE/SAUSSET, SEINE-SAINT-DENIS
- GREENHOUSES, JARDIN DES PLANTES, NATIONAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
- TRIP TO THE CHÈVRELOUP ARBORETUM, VERSAILLES
- GRANDE GALERIE DE L’ÉVOLUTION, NATIONAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
- GUIDED TOUR OF THE HERBIER, NATIONAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
- OBSERVATION SESSION, ARBONNE-LA-FÔRET, SEINE-ET-MARNE

Participating schools:
- Class 6, Collège George Braque, Neuilly-sur-Marne
- Class 6, Collège Honoré de Balzac, Neuilly-sur-Marne
- Class 5, Collège Jacques Jorissen, Drancy
- Class 6, Collège Anatole France, Les Pavillons-sous-Bois
- Class 6, Collège Théodore Monod, Gagny