How plants work display at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens during National Science Week

LOTS TO LEARN: Botanist Kevin McDonald is behind a display at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens that aims to teach the public how plants work.
LOTS TO LEARN: Botanist Kevin McDonald is behind a display at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens that aims to teach the public how plants work.

Botany is considered to be the Cinderella of the sciences, Kevin McDonald believes, in that it is generally associated with pretty flowers but underappreciated for its larger contributions, particularly to our lives.

To make botanical science more accessible to all members of the public, and get people more interested in the field, Mr McDonald, a botanist, will be manning a display and conducting experiments at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens throughout National Science Week.

"So many people don't realise just how important botany is to their everyday lives," Mr McDonald, who is also a founder of the Heatherbrae-based gardens and one of its longest serving volunteers, said.

"Such as, if we didn't have the rubber tree we wouldn't have rubber which was used to create tyres for cars.

"The study of botany as a science has become more important and vital than ever. There have been many exciting and truly significant botanical discoveries made in recent decades, including those discoveries of major importance regarding the future of life on Earth."

To promote botany and educate the public on the importance of plants, the gardens have for the past three years set up a display during National Science Week which began August 11 and will run until August 18.

Mr McDonald said, however, if the display proved to be as popular as last year's was, it would stay set up for another week.

The display, which can be found in the environment pavilion of the gardens, includes a variety of presentations on plants and offers a range of simple experiments using common objects for the public to try. The aim of the experiments is to help people understand the basic principals of how plants work.

"Most people who try the experiments are surprised with how much they find out about plants using torches and buckets of water," Mr McDonald said.

Mr McDonald is often on hand to provide information and to help visitors conduct the experiments.

Entry to the display is free but entry to the gardens is $3 per person.

The display will be open to visitors 9am to 4pm daily.

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