Calling All Budding Botanists…
Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory Offers Audio Tour for Kids & Adults!
With winter approaching, fall is transitioning from a brightly colored celebration of cooler weather to a chilly, shadowy, hunkered-down, hollowed-out version of its former self. While the change in seasons is fascinating to watch, it’s not unreasonable to long for greener surroundings. Luckily, Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory in Northampton has just what you need to enjoy a day full of bright, summer-style plant life!
With ten different indoor exhibits to explore, the learning possibilities offered by the conservatory are endless. Tours are available to large groups of visitors, but families and individuals are welcome to visit during the conservatory’s regular hours to explore the hundreds of different plants housed there.
Despite the lack of human tour guides for smaller groups of visitors, tours are still available! Throughout the conservatory are quick response (QR) codes which, when scanned by a smart phone, generate an audio recording of information about a particular climate or type of plant. Visitors who don’t have smart phones can rent audio tour wands (which serve the same function) for $1 per person…
The audio tour can be tailored to visitors’ particular interests, and there are separate tours available for kids and adults. The kids tour contains thirty different recordings spread out through the nine differently themed houses of the conservatory. Families can listen to information about how familiar foods like olives, bananas, and chocolate grow (pictured here) are grown, the fascinating adaptations of carnivorous plants, and scientific topics like biodiversity and extinction. In addition, kids can hear information about the criteria that make a good house plant (after all, all of this studying might make them want to have their own miniature conservatory), and will get to hear an introduction to each of the different climates created in each house.
The audio tour can be adapted to fit kids of all ages and interests, and the ease with which the wealth of information can be accessed is incredible. Want to know more about how the vanilla beans that you saw grow? No need to find a book or do an internet search – scan the code and learn about it while you’re still looking at the plant! Being able to listen to information about plants while still within eye shot means that visitors will be more likely to truly understand the information being given. They’ll be able to see the leaf shapes that the narrator discusses, or inspect the color of the bark and examine the buds or fruit growing on a plant while learning about why they look the way that they do.
The Lyman Conservatory is open to visitors from 8:30am-4pm daily, and admission is free but donations are gladly accepted. For more information about the audio tours, contact the conservatory at 413-585-2740. The Lyman Conservatory is located at 16 College Lane on the Smith College campus.
Other learning opportunities at the Lyman Conservatory featured here on Hilltown Families recently:
[Photo credits: (c) Sienna Wildfield]