Oct 10, 201207:51 AMDaily News
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Reid Elementary discovers edible plants
Students at Robert Reid Elementary School are getting the best kind of science lesson: hands-on and edible.
The school teamed up with the American Heart Association to plant a teaching garden that the entire school is responsible for maintaining. The goal is two-fold—part science lesson, part nutrition lesson. “I think one of the key things is to introduce the children to a variety of different foods,” said Principal Earl Bright. “Also understanding, as part of our science curriculum, the whole lifestyle of a plant. It goes from a seed to a small plant and then when it’s mature, we get something that’s edible.”
The AHA was looking for a school to volunteer for the project and Bright said Reid Elementary jumped at the chance.
It has been an opportunity for all grades to be involved with different tasks assigned to different levels, with the older the students getting the more complex work.
Planting day was a school-wide activity with kids filling buckets with dirt, planting seeds and seedlings and watering their new crops. Bright was anxious to see how the fifth-graders responded to playing in the dirt. He was happy to see they loved it.
“One of the things I do here in school is I tell my fifth graders, because they’re the oldest students in the building, they are the leaders,” Bright said. “They are the role models. Because they are the leaders and role models, they get a few privileges the other students don’t get. Having some of those big-ticket jobs in the garden is a privilege for them.”
It is also something for the younger kids to look forward to. Bright plans on keeping the garden going for years to come and the younger kids can move up the ranks to the more fun and complex tasks as they advance in school.
The first crops will soon be ready to harvest and the school will maintain the garden over the winter before planting crops again in the spring.
The goal for the nutrition side of the project is to introduce kids to a host of vegetables to try during lunch or snack. During the summer when the school is empty, Bright said the crops will be donated to a local food bank.
For the science side of the project, Bright is already seeing results as kids are starting to see where their food comes from. “The kids knowing the carrot they’re about to have in their hand and they’re going to be able to munch on came from this little tiny seed just blows their mind,” Bright said.
The faculty and staff have been very supportive of the project, Bright said, particularly Marianne Moore, a science teacher who is also an avid gardener. The flower beds and most of the equipment were donated by the AHA, and some of the supplies were donated by Ames True Temper. The school now just needs a small shed to keep all its supplies in and it’ll be set for years to come.
For now, all the kids can do is maintain the garden and wait. “The anticipation is great,” Bright said. “The kids planted the little tiny seeds, and now we actually have things coming up. It’s not a textbook, it’s not online, it’s hands on, hands in the dirt and seeing the process from start to finish, which I think is really, really cool.”
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web for Central Penn Parent. He loves vegetable gardening and grew tomatoes on his balcony this year.