Category Archives: Plants & People

To Improve Students’ Engagement In Lessons, Take Them Outside

This study is the first to our knowledge to directly examine the effects of lessons in nature on subsequent classroom engagement. We found higher levels of classroom engagement after lessons in nature than after carefully matched classroom-based counterparts; these differences could not be explained by differences in teacher, instructional approach, class (students, classroom, and class size), time of year, or time of day, nor the order of the indoor and outdoor lessons on a given topic. It would seem that lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement, and boost it a great deal; after a lesson in nature, teachers were able to teach for almost twice as long without having to interrupt instruction to redirect students’ attention. This nature advantage persisted across 10 different weeks and lesson topics, and held not only for a teacher with positive expectations for nature-based lessons but also for a teacher who anticipated negative effects of such lessons. The findings here suggest that lessons in nature allow students to simultaneously learn classroom curriculum while rejuvenating their capacity for learning, or “refuel in flight.” (Click on title for full story.)

Irrigation Technique To Farm Arid Lands Passed Along The Ancient Silk Road From Lebanon To China’s Desert

Small-scale irrigation systems similar to MGK were established at the Geokysur river delta oasis in southeast Turkmenistan about 3,000 B.C. and further west at the Tepe Gaz Tavila settlement in Iran about 5,000 B.C. The Wadi Faynan farming community, established in a desert environment in southern Jordan during the late Bronze Age, has an irrigation system nearly identical to the one at MGK, including boulder-constructed canals, cisterns and field boundaries. (Click on title for full story.)

Did Wine Making Begin In Neolithic Georgia?

The oldest of these jars came from 8,000 years ago. It’s the earliest artifact ever found showing humans consuming juice from the Eurasian grapes that are the foundation of today’s wine industry. (Click on title for full story.)

Aboriginal People Moved Valued Plant Species Around Australia As They Traveled

Newly published DNA research from a team of scientists and indigenous collaborators upturns botanical history, pointing to a vast and unacknowledged human influence in the distribution of Australia’s native plants. (Click on title for full story.)

Troubled Vets Find Their Way Home Through Botanical Garden Program

In his 20 years in the Navy, Joseph deployed five times and saw dozens of friends die. “I relive those incidents in my head every day. So the garden kinda puts that in peace when I walk, when I walk thought the front gate it really puts my mind at ease. It takes away the darkness and brings some lightness. I used to have migraines all the time and I’m down to one or two a month. And I think that’s due in part to constantly working the garden,” Joseph said. (Click on title for full story.)

With Cacao Crops Threatened Can Jackfruit Be Chocolate’s Replacement?

Jackfruit seeds are a waste product that can be fermented, roasted and converted to flour imparting a chocolate aroma, according to research. (Click on title for full story.)

Can Iceland Restore Forests Destroyed By Viking Ancestors?

The country lost most of its trees more than a thousand years ago, when Viking settlers took their axes to the forests that covered one-quarter of the countryside. Now Icelanders would like to get some of those forests back, to improve and stabilize the country’s harsh soils, help agriculture and fight climate change. But restoring even a portion of Iceland’s once-vast forests is a slow and seemingly endless task. Despite the planting of three million or more trees in recent years, the amount of land that is covered in forest — estimated at about 1 percent at the turn of the 20th century, when reforestation was made a priority — has barely increased. (Click on title for full story.)

In Space, Humans Will Need Plants To Maintain Mental Health

While these anecdotes do not provide direct experimental evidence in support of the psychological benefits of growing plants in space, they do show the affective responses and high level of interest by the astronauts associated with having greenery on board space vessels. (Click on title for full story.)

Climate Change Forces Los Angeles To Say Good-bye To Iconic Palm Trees

‘The iconic association of palm trees with Los Angeles is a positive, but we’re now in a period where we have a better understanding of what’s needed,’ says a climate expert. (Click on title for full story.)

How Grape Vines’ Chemical Memory Of Forest Fires Taints Wine

If wine is cultivated in an area where forest fires occur more often, such as in Australia or Southern Italy, aromas that make the alcoholic drink unpalatable can develop in the finished product. Until now, it wasn’t known why this is so and what happens at the molecular level. (Click on title for full stroy.)