One Cool Earth Uses Research To Focus Program Results
The EarthGenius program includes best-practices in nutrition education by involving students in every step of the food system, from growing and harvesting, to cooking, eating, and sharing and operating the program over the duration of the school year. In particular, our growing, cooking and tasting leverage three determinants that lead to the most effective nutritional behavior change: 1) decrease fear of trying new foods (neophobia); 2) increase perception that it is socially acceptable to eat fruits and vegetables; and 3) increase self-efficacy in abilities to eat fruits and vegetables. Gardening itself burns 400 calories per hour, as much as jogging!
The EarthGenius program bridges textbook learning with the real world, and garden-based lessons aligned to classroom standards serve as effective , engaging, and low-cost laboratories as they model many of the basic concepts in earth science, life sciences, and physical sciences. Multi-subject elementary teachers often lack strong background training in scientific subjects and science education pedagogy. By providing teachers with training, coaching, and resources, and by maintaining gardens, the EarthGenius program increases the capacity of schools to teach science effectively. Garden programs interlinked with standards and combined with teacher trainings have been shown to improve standardized testing scores by up to 15 percent.
EarthGenius gardens involve students in real-world projects with tangible impacts. The program also encourages Wise Water-use by teaching conservation habits and utilizing state-of-the-art irrigation technologies. Low-income residents are often hardest-hit by increasing utility prices, and water conservation provides direct financial savings. We promote Zero Waste at schools to lower waste hauling costs and comply with state mandates to reduce waste. Our garden programs are linked with school-wide recycling and composting programs. We process the compost in bins using worms to produce fertilizer for our gardens. By recycling, we reduce school waste hauling costs by up to $3000 per year per school, helping to justify schools in partially funding garden programs. We teach about Food Forests, incorporating ecology and tree planting with the garden programs, allowing students to plant and raise their own native trees in nurseries at each school.