Teaching with the Web:
A Collection of Online Treasure Hunts and Webquests

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MEDICINAL FLORA IN FIELD AND ONLINE: A WebQuest for Second Year High School (Science)

Authored by F. Vilbar with P. Arinto


Introduction
Due to economic difficulties, many people in the rural areas are unable to buy medicines even for minor ailments. For this reason, alternative sources of medicine are becoming more popular.

Plants are an alternative source of medicine that are easily accessible to rural folk. Herbal medicines are extracts from plants and flowers that have medicinal properties. They can be a cheap alternative to costly medicines.

Join our Municipal Health Officer in her quest for plants with medicinal value in our community—and find ways of curing illness that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

The Task
The Municipal Health Officer of Hilongos, Leyte has a special charge: to implement health programs and monitor the health conditions of the people. Although she is very capable, she cannot fulfill this charge without help—your help. Specifically, she needs the assistance of a task force composed of botanists, barangay health workers, and photographers to help her locate and document the medicinal plants growing in the various barangays of Hilongos, Leyte.

In order that the greatest amount of information can be gathered in the shortest possible time, the task force is to be divided into teams, with each team being assigned a specific category of medicinal plants. Each team in turn will be divided into groups that will be assigned to locate these plants in specific barangays. Each team will conduct field research, during which they will examine specimens of medicinal plants in the barangay assigned to them, take photos and make drawings, and interview local experts. They will also do a review of related literature (that is, read written reports in libraries and the Internet) about the medicinal qualities of these plants.

The final output of each team is a report of the medicinal plants in the barangays assigned to them.

Process

STEP 1. Let’s Begin! (1-2 days)

a. The task force, composed of all third year Science classes of Hilongos National Vocational School, is to be divided into teams specializing in medicinal plants that address one set of ailments. The teams (each to consist of one whole class section) and the categories of medicinal plants assigned to them, are as follows:

TEAM 1 – medicinal plants for constipation, diarrhea, and stomachache
TEAM 2 - medicinal plants for wounds, bruises, and boils
TEAM 3 - medicinal plants for skin diseases
TEAM 4 - medicinal plants for cough, colds, and sore throat

b. Each team (or section) will be further divided into groups of 7 members each. Each group will be assigned a specific barangay. For example, Group 1 of Team 1 will study medicinal plants for constipation, diarrhea, stomachache that can be found in Barangay 1.

c. Each member of a group has a specific role to play. The roles are:

Role Responsibility
2 Botanists Identify and describe at least three medicinal plants (for the ailment assigned to their group) in the barangay assigned to their group (the description should be detailed and the local, common and scientific names should be provided)
2 Barangay Health Workers Report on how the medicinal plants identified by the botanists are prepared and used (including which part of the plant is used and the dosage administered to sick persons) by the barangay folk
2 Chemists Identify the pharmacological properties of the plants chosen by the botanists—that is, state what subtance/s is/are present in the plant and how or why this/ese can cure the ailments the plant is supposed to cure
1 Photographer Take two photos each of the medicinal plants identified by the botanists: one photo of the plants in their natural habitat, and another photo of the part of the part of the plant that is used in curing the sick;

Supply informative captions for each photo; and

Prepare the final print and electronic copy of the group report.

STEP 2. Data Gathering (2 weeks)

a. Begin this step of your research by doing background reading on the use of medicinal plants using the resources found below (under “Resources”). Your teacher may structure this step in the research process as an online treasure hunt.

b. Do the field research. Visit the barangay assigned to you and interview local experts to help you identify the medicinal plants for the ailment your team is specializing in, and describe how these plants are prepared/used.

The photographer should take the necessary photographs.

c. Once you have identified your medicinal plants, do some library research to find out their scientific names and pharmacological properties. The chemists in the group may also interview (by email) experts doing research on medicinal plants (such as the doctors at the Traditional Health Unit of the Department of Health), if necessary.

STEP 3. Preparing the Group Report (1 week)


a. Meet as a group and together prepare your report. The report should consist of three plant profiles, or one profile each for three medicinal plants. Each profile should have the following format:
 
Title: Medicinal Plants for <set of ailments> in Barangay <name of barangay>

Plant #1
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
  Photo A: The plant in its natural habitat   Photo B:
Part of the plant used
 

1. Name of the Plant
1.1 Local name
1.2 Common name
1.3 Scientific name

2. Description
2.1 Distinguishing characteristics
2.2 Classification
2.3 Habitat

3. Pharmacological Properties
3.1 Chemical substances found in the plant
3.2 Effects of these substances

4. Use
4.1 Part/s of the plant used for healing
4.2 Procedures for preparing the plant for use in medication
4.3 Dosage and administration

Submitted by-
Group Number:
Team (Section): Names of Group Members:

Date Submitted:
 

b. Be sure to read the entire group report and together make the necessary improvements. Your group will receive a group grade for this report (see Evaluation) so it is important that the entire report, and not just your individual parts in it, is of a high standard.

c. Submit a print and electronic copy of your group report to your teacher on the due date.

STEP 4: Self-Assessment and Peer Evaluation (1 day)

Fill in the self-assessment and peer evaluation forms and submit these to your teacher on the due date.

Resources
Use a variety of online research resources but don't forget to search for print sources in the library. Although the list below has been put together to help with your research, be sure to evaluate each website for accuracy, authority, currency, bias, and other criteria for examining websites. Remember: Information changes rapidly on the Web!

Importance of Plants
http://www.enviro-explorers.com/wildflowers/importance_of_plants_and_plant_c.htm

Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
http://world.std.com/~krahe/html1.html

Index to Descriptions of Medicinal Plants
http://www.mhhe.com/links/1253/1249/1181/1124/index.html

Herbal Secrets from the Rainforests
http://rain-tree.com/bookchapter.htm
(Important: Note the format of the profiles of medicinal plants included in this webpage.)

Therapeutic Properties of Ginkgo, Bilberry, Ginseng, and Garlic
http://www.matolkm.net/matolginkgo.htm

Botanical, Pharmacological and Therapeutic Information on Tropical Plants
http://www.phytomania.com/2frame1.htm
(Important: The default page for links is in French. However, there is a button at the upper part of each page for an English translation.)

What Can You Do?
http://www.nps.gov/plants/medicinal/whatcanyoudo.htm

Preparation of Medicinal Plants
http://rain-tree.com/prepmethod.htm
(Important: This site is also a tropical plant database that includes the common and scientific names of plants found in the tropics.)

Phytotherapy
http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/medplanmakco.html

University of Arizona Information Resource Guide on Medicinal Plants
http://dizzy.library.arizona.edu/library/teams/set/medplant.html
(Important: If you need to locate other websites on medicinal plants, this page is an index to such websites. Simply click on the links.)

Scientific Names of Plants
http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/char_common.cgi

Characteristics of Plants
http://www.villagegreen.net/vg/teachers/sikes/apbio/plants.pdf

Evaluation
Your group report will be graded using the following checklist:
 
Item Yes
(2 pts.)
Partly
(1 pt.)
No
(0 pt.)
A. Content
1. Are the local names and common names indicated?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
2. Is the scientific name of each medicinal plant correctly stated?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant 
     
3. Is the description for each plant complete?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
4. Are the chemical substances in the plant identified?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
5. Are the effects of these chemical substances specified?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
6. Is/Are the plant part/s used for healing specified?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
7. Are the procedures for preparing the plant for medicinal use clear and easy to follow?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
8. Are the procedures for administering the preparation made to a sick person clearly given?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
9. Are the two photos for each plant properly labelled? / Are the photo captions informative?
a. 1st Plant
b. 2nd Plant
c. 3rd Plant
     
B. Mechanics and Format
1. Is the format correct?      
2. Is the presentation neat?      
3. Are the photos clear and taken from the right perspective?      
4. Are there no errors in the spelling and grammar?      
5. Was the group report submitted on time?      
6. Is there an electronic and print copy of the report?      

The perfect score for the group report is 84 points.

Individual grades for this project will be computed as follows:
 
Item Percent of
Project Grade
Group Report 70%
Self-assessment 15%
Peer evaluation 15%
TOTAL 100%

Conclusion
After completing this project, I hope you will no longer take for granted the plants in your own backyard. What looks like a weed could spell the difference between health and illness, or between life and death!

In this project you will learn important skills that are useful not only in a science classroom but also in most areas of life: how to observe things closely, how to locate and record information, and how to present information systematically. Equally important is team work, without which you cannot complete your group report.

Continue appreciating and learning from the various forms of life around you.
 

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