About The Great Plant Hunt
To mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, commissioned and funded by the Wellcome Trust, has created The Great Plant Hunt. This exciting project will encourage children to explore the natural world around them and join other schools in the biggest ever school science project.
Forming part of the Darwin 200 initiative, The Great Plant Hunt invites primary school children to follow in the footsteps of Darwin by going on nature walks in and around their school grounds. They'll find out more about plants and in the process learn key scientific skills.
About RBG Kew
Founded in 1759, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been collecting, cataloguing, researching and making information available about plants and fungi for centuries.
Kew is a global repository for plant science, holding more than 7 million dried and pressed plant specimens, over 35,000 living types of plant, and more than 1bn seeds in the Millennium Seed Bank. Kew was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2003 - the first botanic garden in the world to receive this status, and recognition of its contribution to natural heritage.
Kew's knowledge and expertise in taxonomy, along with its understanding of the vital importance of plants and their habitats, has helped it become a world leader in supporting plant conservation. Kew supports specialists in documenting, conserving and promoting sustainable use of our precious plant resources. But we can all do our bit. With this project, Kew aims to encourage future generations to do the same and follow in Kew scientists' and enthusiasts' footsteps, helping to look after plants.
See www.kew.org for more information.
About Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
Saving seeds represents long term, low cost insurance against the threats to plants from climate change, pollution, habitat loss, overexploitation and invasive alien species.
Seeds are more efficient to store than plants - they are small and they undergo a period of dormancy naturally.
Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, started collecting seeds of endangered plants in the 1970s as part of its conservation work. The collection grew, and the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) opened in 2000.
So far, the MSB has collected 98% of all 1400 UK native plant species, including 300 endangered species. Now, the aim is to provide a haven for 24,000 species by 2010, representing 10% of the world's seed bearing flora.
The MSB partners with scientists in around 20 countries, prioritising plants that may be endemic, endangered or economically useful. Kew collectors and local partners collect using technologies such as GIS and mini seed banks like the ones in the treasure chest.
See www.kew.org/msbp/index.htm for more information.
About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is the most diverse biomedical research charity in the world, spending around £600 million every year both in the UK and internationally to support and promote research that will improve the health of humans and animals.
The Trust is committed to engaging with the public on science and has a strong interest in supporting science teachers through initiatives such as the National Science Learning Centre
To celebrate 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin, the Wellcome Trust is commissioning, developing and funding a unique and ambitious set of projects to engage the widest UK public with Darwin, his ideas, and his influence on contemporary science and culture.
The Trust is providing Darwin-inspired practical activity kits for every state school in the UK. The Great Plant Hunt is the Wellcome Trust's offering for primary schools. Survival Rivals is the equivalent programme for secondary schools. See www.survivalrivals.org for more information.
The Trust has also developed the Tree of Life - an interactive fly-through of evolution on Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough- as well as Darwin-inspired visual arts, poetry and short film projects, placing Darwin and evolution into contemporary culture.
Find out more at www.wellcome.ac.uk/darwin200.
Delivery sponsor - Parcelforce Worldwide
The Great Plant Hunt Team would like to thank Parcelforce for delivering the Treasure Chests to schools.
Parcelforce Worldwide is an experienced carrier, helping companies large and small deliver in the UK and abroad. They offer a wide range of UK and International delivery services.
See www.parcelforce.com for more information.
Thanks to Herbiseed, a specialist grower of unusual seeds and plants, for providing the mystery seed and sunflower seed for all 23,000 boxes going to schools.
See www.herbiseed.com for more information.
Thanks to Singtastic.com for working with Kew and for offering free materials around one of composer David Haines' most popular songs,“Mister Darwin”.
See www.singtastic.com for more information.