Outdoor Explorers

Activity ideas and lesson plans

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Nature Olympics

Welcome to our first ever Outdoor Explorers activity!

This activity is called Nature Olympics. We have chosen four different categories and will head outside to try and find which plants in our neighbourhood will be the winners. You can watch our videos to see our results and we have also prepared some worksheets for you to print out and try it out yourself at home. You can do this activity anywhere that there are a few trees and plants with leaves. We hope you have fun!

To begin with, watch Mike introduce the activity below and then continue to work your way through the rest of the instructions on this page.

Before we head out, we want you to make predictions on the results that we will get in Khao Sok. Don’t worry if you get them wrong – it’s all just a bit of fun. Click on the document below to see how you can make your predictions. If you are a teacher, you might want to display this document on the board for your students to see.

Now that you have made your predictions, you are ready to watch our attempt at finding the winners in Khao Sok. There are two videos: the first one will show you four different methods of measuring the height of a tree. You should watch that one first to choose your favourite method before watching the second video, which incudes all four Nature Olympics categories.

If you are short of time, however, you can skip straight to the second video and you can use the method of measuring tree height shown in that video.

Now that you know our results, we would like you to print out the worksheet below and make new predictions. This time, you are predicting what you will find in your own neighbourhood. Take these sheets with you when you go out looking for your winning plants and fill them in as you go along. Don’t forget to also check out our list of equipment to make sure you are properly prepared for your adventure and to follow the safety rules given by your chaperone!

Your final task for the Nature Olympics is to think about your experiences. Try answering these questions:

1. Were your predictions more accurate the first time or the second time? Why do you think this was?

2. What limitations or challenges did you face when trying to take accurate measurements? Could you have done anything differently to make your results more accurate?

3. How did your results compare to the plants in Khao Sok in the video? What do you think the reason might be for any similarities or differences that you found?

Thanks for joining us for this Outdoor Explorers activity. We would love to hear how it went so please send us an email. You can also request future topics for online learning content on our website. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for updates on new content.

Bonus category: biggest flower (rafflesia)

Khao Sok is home to some of the world's biggest flowers

Another category we could have chosen is “Biggest Flower”. This is a photo of a rafflesia flower (rafflesia kerrii), which is one of the biggest flowers in the world; some specimens have been measured at more than 1 metre wide! If you would like to see the rafflesia for yourself, you can visit Khao Sok between November and March.

The rafflesia is a parasite and grows on vines on the forest floor. There are several places to see them in Khao Sok but you will have to go with a local guide so that they can take you to the best spot – the flower only blooms for a few days before rotting away.

There is a common misconception that the flower is carnivorous but it actually attracts insects for pollination and not for food. Another misconception is that this flower has a very strong smell. Whilst it does have a faint smell, it is not as strong as people think and so please don’t be tempted to get too close to try and smell it – this is an endangered species and you may accidentally damage its host vine or the flowers themselves. The flowers are found in clusters but do not all bloom on the same day, so you have to walk very carefully so as not to step on the blossoms.

Sometimes the flowers are collected for medicinal purposes. This is an unfortunate threat to many rare species and we ask that you do not participate in any kind of rare species trade – be it medicinal flowers, insects in showcases or animals in the exotic pet trade. Sometimes these species are difficult to breed in captivity and so poachers can sell them for a high price by taking them from the wild. Please don’t support this industry!