By Teresa Lees, Garden Educator Manager at Cambria Grammar School
Yes, we have plenty of stems, leaves, and roots from our vegetables in the garden. And it is awesome that through the One Cool Earth, Earth Genius program students eat these stems and leaves and roots.
Students also receive plenty of STEM education in the garden too. That means they are learning SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS (STEM). At Cambria Grammar School, the students regularly have STEM in the Library programs when they tinker, build and make structures with their hands, so it was a natural extension when I said, “Now we are doing STEM in the Garden."
SCIENCE – Students have been experiencing soil science through hands-on explorations of the three soil types – sand, silt, clay and have set up experiments to track the difference of how seeds emerge in the three soil types. There are always plant science lessons connected to children’s literature too such as “Tops & Bottoms” and “Two Old Potatoes” and me. We even tied in art lessons here too with drawings of plants that grow below ground (bottoms) and above ground (tops) and made Potato Prints in the garden. (So this is where the acronym STEAM comes from – add an “A” for “Art.”)
TECHNOLOGY – Students have been learning about meteorology with a toy weather station (By the way, sure would be nice if someone could donate the funds for a real weather station for the schools!) that has a rain gauge, thermometer, anemometer, and weather vane. Students were then shown a model of a weather vane made out a pencil, straw, straight pin, and paper for the directional arrow and tail and given the supplies so they could figure out how to make their own weather vane to take home.
ENGINEERING – Students are looking at water usage at home as well as on campus. On campus, we will look at an architectural drawing of the school grounds and map out where all the drains are located so that we are all more aware of where water flows from high ground to low ground.
MATHEMATICS – Students will be graphing the precipitation data from 2015 – 2017 to see the low numbers of average rainfall. Hopefully, they will take a strong interest in watching the weather enough to follow the precipitation numbers for 2018 and beyond. We also used math with the 1st and 2nd graders tocount up to 63 by counting by 7’s to introduce them to the concept of multiplication as each one of nine potatoes in the story “Two Old Potatoes and Me” produced at least 7 potatoes each. We planted nine potato “eyes” in the garden and then lined up nine students and had them each count out 7 small objects to put into a basket. Altogether there were now 63 potatoes!
These STEM in the garden lessons are all connected to the Next Generation Science Standards but more importantly, they are connected to multiple intelligences of students’ talents and passion and create a culture of lifelong learning and curiosity for the students.