Harvesting the fruit of the sun


Grant will create new exhibit at Garfield Conservatory


Bananas, mangoes and pineapples are sweet fruits that science educators believe will help us understand a complex scientific process. These and other fruity plants at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, will be central to "Sugar From the Sun," a new exhibit funded by a $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant.

"All of the Earth's energy comes from the sun," says David Snyder, principal investigator and arts and education specialist at the Garfield Park Conservatory. "We will create an experiential, immersive exhibit where we hope to simplify a complicated process through hands-on experiences."

Even though the exhibit won't open until 2006, the conservatory wants your help in figuring it out before it opens. As early as next year, the conservatory will have plans, models and designs on display and they will be asking for visitor's comment to help shape the exhibit.

Plans will be divided into four sections: air, water, light and sugar. The center will examine the sun and its relationship to each. A child visiting the water section may touch or feel roots that absorb water or read text as water flows down a water fall; they may feel a mist in the air, learning about how plants absorb food. In the light section, children can experiment with different leaf shapes and sizes to discover how much sunlight, or energy, a plant can collect. The goal is to introduce families to how plants manufacture sugar, or food energy, from the sun, helping them to understand the scientific concept of photosynthesis.

"Sugar From the Sun" will be part of the conservatory's 6,000-square-foot Sweet House. For information, visit www.garfield-conservatory.org.

Lenna Silberman Scott


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