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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Kids Arrive!

Tuesday was my first day working in the garden with the kids and it was absolutely fantastic!
The lesson of the day sought to get each grade level to think like scientists. "What do plants need to grow? Lets go find out!" We looked around at all the plants and decided that plants needed soil, water, and sunshine. Depending on the age group- we really drilled it in Water! Soil! Sunshine! Water! Soil! Sunshine!

"How do plants drink water? They don't have a mouth," one kinder-gardener asked.
"Through their root of course!"
"Well... um.... Miss Shannon.... Whats a root?"
We got into a whole conversation about how for every green thing she saw in the garden, there was a root system that went down into the ground. I used sedge-weeds to show her the root systems. We talked about how the roots were a little like tongues drinking up the water and the plant-food in the soil. She thought that was SO cool.
Another girl, in third grade, was REALLY interested in how plants grow. I spent close to 10 minutes with her discussing the structure, flowering, and fruiting of the papaya tree. She said "So, if you like plants and all that, does that mean you have to like science too? cause I don't like science, but I think I like this garden stuff." We talked about how science was in all things: human bodies, stars, plant cells, soil, fingernails, everything. We talked about how science was really just being curious and having questions. She said "Well, I have lots of questions."
"Then you're a perfect candidate to be a scientist."
"Cooooooool" She responded.
"The cool thing about science," I said "Is not always knowing the right answers, but asking the right questions. You're really good at asking the right kind of questions, I think you've got what it takes to be a scientist."
"Yeah, I've been thinkin' that too."

When we asked what some of the garden rules should be, some of the younger kids had some really great ideas: "don't stand in front of their sunlight", "don't do karate on them", "don't hug them too tight." I didn't think that my work in the garden would get me thinking about government spending and policy so quickly, but wouldn't it be great if we re-directed FCAT money into lowering the student/teacher ratio in the classes? There seemed to be a direct link between number of students and the stress this causes for teachers. I think making the student-teacher ratio a bigger priority would have a much higher impact on students than test-taking. Just an idea though. What do you think?

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