Monday, November 18, 2019

Mushroom exploration at Udaan Learning Center, 11th November, 2019

Uddan Learning Center Library
Located at Kandbari hills, Udaan Learning Center is working towards nurturing children to become aware, sensitive and vibrant individuals. The center is working with both, the children in the nearby village & the urban children. This November, the learning center along with Himpicked organised a mushroom exploration trip for kids from Youth For Understanding India.  The participants included kids from Germany, Belgium, France and local kids from Kandbari village.

Finding mushrooms in the forest
The kids were taught how to find the mushrooms in the forest. After foraging for a few hours, various edible & medicinal mushrooms were identified. The key mushrooms identified were Split gills mushroom (latin Schizophyllum commune), Puffballs, Ganoderma & Turkey tail mushrooms (latin Trametes versicolor).

Harvesting wild mushrooms using cutters
Before harvesting the mushrooms, the children were told about responsible wild mushroom picking, avoiding over-harvesting and the fact than leaving some mushrooms for other pickers is more than just courtesy. They were also informed about proper harvesting techniques, so that there are more mushrooms in the years to come.

Separating Edible & Medicinal Mushrooms
After harvesting the mushrooms, the children were taught how to identify some of the common medicinal & edible mushrooms in the wild, including there key identification features. Then, they were asked to separate the medicinal mushrooms from the edible varieties.

Understanding Lichens

Apart from fungi, the children were told about other microscopic organisms that inhabit the forest. They were told how to spot & identify the Lichens. And that lichens are a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi.
A closer look at Lichens
A closer look at lichens



The children were also able to spot Spirogyra, which a free floating algae in fresh water streams. Later, the specimens were observed under compound microscope for a deeper understanding.
Finding free floating algae (Spirogyra) in water 
Overall, mushroom foraging let the children to learn biology & ecosystem in a more holistic & hands-on approach. We believe that biology or environmental science cannot be solely taught in the classroom. So, now when they read about environmental ecology or biology in their classrooms, they could better connect to it.

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