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New addition to Botanical Gardens just for kids

TAMPA, Fla. -- A new children's section has opened at the University of South of Florida's Botanical Gardens in an attempt to grow curiosity about nature in young visitors.

Having officially opened Jan. 21, 2012, the 800-square foot space has wooden tables for experiments and crafts, and a wooden deck for reading in order to create an interactive area for budding minds. The Botanical Gardens has been able to strengthen its connection to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative by creating a place that kids can show their families what they have been learning in school, but with a more hands-on approach.

From conception to now, it has taken Botanical Gardens Director Laurie Walker and her team six months to create this special area. A generous donation was made by Irene Rubenstein to help fund the project, which was built by two USF alumni, Lance Hans and Pauhl Gazlay of They plan to continue building and adding on to the space in the future.

Walker said, there will be a different theme and hands-on project for kids and parents each month.

“We plan to have discovery packs -- back packs with items for exploring the garden, the wildlife and the clouds,” Walker said. “These can be checked out and used by scout troops, classes and families. In each pack there will be all the tools and instructions for a successful adventure. There will also be a journal that users will have to document their experience.”?

The Botanical Gardens team hopes that by opening a section of the gardens such as the children’s area, it will bring people of all ages into the gardens to explore the wonders of nature.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Botanical Gardens    
Author: Megan Lamb