The lessons in this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom introduce the work of botanists and botanical illustrators, specifically their race to make records of endangered plant species around the world. “Very little of the world’s flora has been fully studied,” says one Smithsonian botanist, “and time is running out.” In the first lesson, students gets to know six endangered plants. They examine illustrations, photographs, and dried specimens of the plants as they consider this question: If a scientist can take a picture of a plant, are there advantages in having an illustration? They go on to consider some of the big questions that botanists themselves must ask: Which of these species are most in need of conservation efforts? Are any of these plants more worth saving than others?In the second lesson, the students try their own hands at botanical illustration, following the methods of a Smithsonian staff illustrator. All that is required for the lesson are pencils, markers, tracing paper, and access to a photocopier.
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