When 4th graders in the Tyler ISD TARGET (gifted and talented) program were challenged to help their school and the community be more earth friendly, they decided to explore school gardening and upcycling.
Students and their teachers began the project-based learning experience by interviewing local master gardener, Ms. Katy Barone, to learn more about the gardening process and how to create their own garden on campus. The next step was to build and prepare their gardens before choosing seasonal vegetables to plant. Recently, students began harvesting these vegetable, which included various greens and squash.
“Project based learning such as this is important because it deepens our students understanding of the TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and their basic knowledge of the world around them,” Nicole Shuler, principal, said. “The garden allows them to look at the core subjects they learn, such as math, science and social studies, and see how they are all integrated on a daily basis.”
Each week students track growth through measurements and record various types of data, such as the temperature and rainfall, to document and learn from the changes they see over time. In addition, they are performing a scientific investigation in experimental test beds to compare different types of fertilizer and their effects on chard. They are also creating a pollinator garden of daffodils, spider lilies, and wildflowers for the spring to attract bees and butterflies to help their vegetables grow.
Along with learning how to grow a garden, students are also involved in the “Path to the Plate” program through the Texas A&M Agrilife extension. Path to the Plate teaches students about the steps that it takes to produce food, and how food choices impact their well-being. Once their vegetables are ready to harvest, students participate in a hands-on cooking class with local Agrilife Extension Agents to learn how to use the plants to cook healthy and nourishing meals.
“We are very thankful to be partnering with the Master Gardeners of Smith County and the Agrilife Extension Agency to provide this wonderful, real-world learning opportunity for our students,” Mrs. Shuler said. “We are excited to watch our plants and our students grow as they take on this responsibility!”