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Educational Module


In an ethnobotany course, we frequently tell students about the importance of certain plant families, and note that while the genus and species may vary, they frequently fall within a plant family.  We usually cite as an example of major food sources, the grass family (Poaceae) with wheat and other grasses for Europe and the Mediterranean, rice for Asia, and corn for the Americas.  On the other hand in the Pacific, Araceae is the most significant food family.

This educational module, to illustrate plant uses and characteristic of a designated taxon (in this case, a plant family)  takes place at various intervals during the 15 week semester.  This exercise begins during Week 4, when a list of plant spices is distributed to the students in the Introductory Ethnobotany (Bot 105) course (syllabus link).  A short discussion on plant spices and their importance takes place.  The assigned reading on this topic is pages 99-140 (Balick, Michael & Paul Cox.  1996.  Plants, People, and Culture: the science of ethnobotany.  Scientific American Library (2005 reprint edition, American Botanical Council, Austin TX). 
Students in the Honors section (Botany 105A) were asked to examine the spices list, and to select two plant families (first choice and second choice) with spices by the next class session. They were assigned a plant famiiy at that time, and would then begin preparing a short oral presentation with information about the spice as additional class assignments (e.g., presentations which they would make on certain assigned plant uses/topics).
obtain (research) information (from library or internet sources, other than the text books or class videos) about two plants belonging to the selected  plant family, 
provide and cite (e.g. URL or reference source) the plant images (by 2 pm of the Monday preceding the oral presentation) for the instructor to organize into power point format).   The second time that the Honors Section was taught, most of the students provided a power point presentation 
make an oral illustrated (power point) presentation (on the Wednesday indicated), to include:
common and scientific names of plants. 
brief information about the plants morphology.
plants' uses and cultural significance [identify the ethnic/cultural group(s)], and 
submit a written paper (electronic and hard copies) of the oral presentation (to include reference citations) to your peers and instructor.

The topics on which the student-driven research took place was during:
(Week 4) Spice Plants
(Week 9) Medicinal Plants
(Week 14)Invasive Plants
(Week 15)Endangered Plants

Presentations could also be made for
(Week 8) Beverage plants.
(Week 10) Psychoactive plants.
(Week 11) Ritual/Religious plants.
(Week 12) Plants associated with Home (construction, gardens, ornamental, etc.).

In instances where there were no members of the family for the category (e.g., endangered plants, the taxon used was the Order, or phylogenetic relationship).
Listed below are the power point presentations in 6-pane pdf, which were made during the Fall Semester 2012 at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. 

(December 27, 2012)
Al Keali'i Chock,
Dec 25, 2012, 10:21 PM
Al Keali'i Chock,
Dec 25, 2012, 10:57 PM
Al Keali'i Chock,
Dec 25, 2012, 10:58 PM
Al Keali'i Chock,
Dec 25, 2012, 11:01 PM