GREEN SPACES FOR NONFORMAL EDUCATION IN VILNIUS UNIVERSITY BOTANICAL GARDEN, LITHUANIA
One of the many goals in Vilnius University Botanical Garden in Lithuania is to develop academic and scientific exploratory activities for its visitors and to create optimal conditions for the country's educational and recreational needs.
Vilnius University Botanical garden has been open to visitors since 2000 and ever since it has been devoted to the education of the public. The garden is visited by some 300 thousand people.
Several areas where the visitors of Vilnius University Botanical garden can discover green spaces of natural habitats include dry slopes, ponds, the broadleaf forest and the overgrown pond, where the interplay of living organisms and abiotic components shape the environment. They can learn about species, both plant and animal, and characteristics of their particular habitats. The informative stands are placed nearby around the whole area and the visitors can explore these places independently or with a help of a professional guide. They can observe and listen to the various species of birds, frogs and insects that freely roam the vast area of the park.
Spring and summertime are the best seasons for flower spotters. Nearly 5,000 species and cultivars of woody and herbaceous ornamental plants grow and bloom in the 30 hectare area of the garden.
The open green spaces host a variety of sculptures and art pieces. Every September visitors are welcome to explore a large 'Land Art' exhibition where various artists present their works with nature being the prime focus.
This year we had the opportunity to hold a series of science education lectures adapted to the project titled "Museum-school-student. Museums and secondary schools in the partnership network". Students involved studied vegetative plant propagation (including propagation by tissue culture) and the history of Japanese Garden creation. Later they were able to choose the plant species that they wanted to plant near their school. This project was a major success and the students were delighted having been given an opportunity to create a new green space at their own school.
Expositions of vegetables and spicy herbs, and pomological cultures also constitute the plentiful green spaces where we can observe, taste and enjoy nature.
The major percentages of visitors in Vilnius University Botanical Garden are students from primary and secondary schools in Lithuania. Nature is important to their development in every major aspect - socially, intellectually and emotionally. These green spaces offer opportunities for them to investigate the natural world, achieve learning outcomes across the curriculum, and be physically active.