Green Our Planet STEM Curricula

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The Outdoor Garden Classroom: Hands-On STEM Curriculum K-5

Thanks to a grant from THE AMERICAN HONDA FOUNDATION, Green Our Planet was able to hire a group of teachers from So. Nevada’s Clark County School District teamed and a group of local horticultural teachers from Garden Farms to create a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum so that lessons can be taught in an outdoor teaching garden. The group created the lessons to Nevada State and Next Generation Science Standards and the curriculum was published on-line in September, 2014. The goals of the STEM lessons are to engage students’ CURIOSITY and to create EXCITEMENT around science and math through hands-on EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING in outdoor garden classrooms.

The team of teachers worked together so that the lessons build upon on another other from one grade to the next. By the time a student reaches third grade, he or she will understand how the entire ecosystem of a garden works–from the importance of sunshine and water to the role soil and insects play in the success of a garden. In fourth grade, students expand their horizons to understand the role of their garden as part of the natural world. In the fifth grade, the students will see how growing food locally can impact their own community and ultimately the health of an entire city.

  • Kindergarten students will learn the basic elements behind the GARDEN ECOSYSTEM from the importance of sunshine and water to their own role as caretakers of the garden.
  • A first grader will learn to identify the key stages of the LIFE CYCLE OF PLANTS and will review the basic needs for each stage of a plant’s life cycle.
  • Second grade students are encouraged to be GARDEN DETECTIVES. Armed with their science journals, they will OBSERVE INSECTS in the garden to understand what the insects eat, and will learn about insect feeding preferences and how those preferences impact the ecosystem of the garden. Second graders add to their previous knowledge by learning about how to encourage beneficial and how to discourage harmful insects in the garden.
  • Third grade students will learn about the different types of SOIL, the components of soil, and will also analyze how weather, climate and erosion affect soil and plant growth.
  • Fourth grade students will focus on natural systems by observing patterns in nature and will explore the FLOW OF ENERGY, INPUTS AND OUTPUTS in the school garden setting.
  • Fifth grade lessons are broken into two units: The FARMERS’ MARKET unit focuses on training students how to create and run their own business, which is a successful Farmers’ Market. The second unit focuses on FOOD JUSTICE in the local community and around the world.

Acknowledgments

The Outdoor Garden Classroom: Hands-On STEM Curriculum K-5 was funded by The American Honda Foundation and created by teachers from the Clark County School District in Association with Green Our Planet and Three Square.

The individual lessons were written by:

Kindergarten

  • Eva Lee, H.P Fitzgerald Elementary School

Grade 1

  • Kim Law, Mabel Hoggard Math & Science Magnet Elementary School

Grade 2

  • Suzanne Cormier, William R. Lummis Elementary School
  • Melissa Tsironis, Marc Kahre Elementary School
  • Cindy Dixon, Great Basin Permaculture

Grade 3

  • Elaine Bennett, Walter Bracken Steam Academy
  • Kam Hughes, Sandy Searles Miller Academy for International Studies
  • Sarah Wagstaff, Garden Farms

Grade 4

  • Cindy Dixon, Great Basin Permaculture
  • Jessica Penrod, Great Basin Permaculture
  • Dana Harper, Garden Farms

Grade 5

  • Kat Coveney, John S. Park Elementary School
  • Laurajuliana Urtubey, Crestwood Elementary School
  • Tiffany Whisenant, Garden Farms

The Gardener’s Toolbox

  • Sarah Wagstaff, Garden Farms

How to Create a Successful Garden Team

  • Jessica Penrod, Green Our Planet
  • Kylie Stransky, Green Our Planet

Fundraising & Events for your Gardens

  • Ciara Byrne, Green Our Planet
  • Kylie Stransky, Green Our Planet

The Chef to School Program

  • Shaun Pink, Green Our Planet

The lessons were edited by: Ciara Byrne, Jessica Penrod & Cindy Dixon

The lessons were designed by: Suzanne Choi & Chris Bruns

The website was created by: Steve Rypka with assistance from Heather


Overview of the Book

Kindergarten – Caring for the Garden

Written by Eva Lee, H.P Fitzgerald Elementary School

Kindergarteners will explore the garden using their senses and through observations will determine the basic needs plants have to survive. Kindergarteners will learn to understand that many life cycles in the garden compete or cooperate to meet these basic needs. Kindergarteners will also acknowledge the role of the gardener as a caretaker and will learn the garden’s basic needs so that a fruitful harvest is possible.

  • Lesson 1 – The Importance of Sunshine
  • Lesson 2 – The Importance of Soil
  • Lesson 3 – The Importance of Water
  • Lesson 4 – Plant Buddies: Carrot and Chive
  • Lesson 5 – Garden Neighbors and Helpful Bugs
  • Lesson 6 – Garden Pests
  • Lesson 7 – Garden Caretakers
  • Lesson 8 – Growing Through the Seasons (mid-February through March)
  • Lesson 9 – Measuring the Harvest (April through May)
  • Lesson 10 – Weighing the Harvest (April through May)

1st Grade – Seeds

Written by Kim Law, Mabel Hoggard Math & Science Magnet Elementary School

First graders will learn to identify the key stages of plant life cycles and will review the basic needs for each stage of a plant’s life.   Students will learn to identify how young plants and their parents are both similar and different. Students will explore how seeds create food that can be used by humans and animals. Students will learn about a plant’s life cycle by sowing seeds early in the growing season and then harvesting seeds at the end of the season.

  • Lesson 1 – What is a Seed?
  • Lesson 2 – The Parts of a Seed
  • Lesson 3 – How Does a Seed Grow Without Soil
  • Lesson 4 – How Does a Seed Grow in Soil
  • Lesson 5 – Using Our Senses to Investigate how Seeds Grow
  • Lesson 6 – Compare and Contrast Plants
  • Lesson 7 – Seed Collecting
  • Lesson 8 – Seed Harvesting

2nd Grade – Insects in the Garden

Written by Sue Cormier, William Lummis ES and Melissa Tsironis, Marc Kahre ES, with assistance from Cindy Dixon of Great Basin Permaculture

The goal for Grade 2 is to foster the creativity and curiosity of the students. Each student plays the role of a detective in the garden. Students will investigate, observe and track garden progress, plant health, weather, wildlife, etc. Activities are designed to promote students’ curiosity about insects in the garden and to allow for the realization that not all insects are pests. Activities in the garden will elicit and explore students’ prior knowledge to be followed with a deeper understanding through year-long observation, research and investigation. Collecting regular data enables students to analyze records for a deeper understanding of how the insect life in the garden changes over the seasons.

Students will observe the garden and keep a running record in their science journals of their observations. They will also keep track of the presence or absence of beneficial insects and pests.

Students will observe insects in the garden to understand what they eat, and will learn about insect feeding preferences and how that impacts the garden’s ecosystem. Students will also learn how to encourage beneficial and discourage harmful insects in the garden.

  • Lesson 1 – Garden Detectives
  • Lesson 2 – Is it an Insect?
  • Lesson 3 – Insects in the Garden!
  • Lesson 4 – Anatomy of Insects
  • Lesson 5 –Insect Mouth Parts
  • Lesson 6 – Beneficial Insects
  • Lesson 7 – Arachnids
  • Lesson 8 – Pollinators
  • Lesson 9 –Pests
  • Lesson 10 – Camouflage

Grade 3 – All About Soil

Written by Elaine Bennett, Walter Bracken Steam Academy and Kam Hughes, Sandy Searles Miller Academy for International Studies with assistance from Sarah Wagstaff of Garden Farms

Third grade students will learn about the different types of soil and the components of soil. Students will learn that different plants prefer to grow in different types of soil. Students will analyze how weather, climate and erosion affect soil and plant growth. Students will also reflect on how bees and worms are important for optimal plant health and how their life cycles interact with the life cycles of the plant. Students will learn how to enrich and protect the soil throughout the year. At the end of the year, students will learn how to protect the soil and their garden durng the hot summer months.

  • Lesson 1 – Soil Components
  • Lesson 2 – Sand, Silt, Clay Oh My!
  • Lesson 3 – Engineering a Better Soil
  • Lesson 4 – Plant Growth and Soil type
  • Lesson 5 – Soil Water Absorption
  • Lesson 6 – Soil Degradation
  • Lesson 7 – Soil and Weather
  • Lesson 8 – Amending the Soil
  • Lesson 9   – Composting
  • Lesson 10 – Soil Food Web
  • Lesson 11 – Components of a Worm
  • Lesson 12 – Worm Life Cycle
  • Lesson 13 – Plant Life Cycle
  • Lesson 14 – Bee Life Cycle
  • Lesson 15 – Pollination
  • Lesson 16 – Building Bee Boxes
  • Lesson 17 – Making Mulch for the Garden

Grade 4 – Energy in the Garden

Written by Jessica Penrod & Cindy Dixon of Great Basin Permaculture with assistance from Dana Harper of Garden Farms

Fourth grade students will focus on natural systems by observing patterns in nature and will explore the flow of energies, inputs, and outputs in the school garden setting. Students will then apply these experiential observations to mapping their school garden, neighborhood fruit and nut trees, and regional food-shed. Students will then explore climate analogs and compare native practices of agriculture and design in order to understand the importance of seed-saving and growing reliable, regionally adapted varieties of plants. Fourth graders will partner with first graders to carry out seed-saving. Students will also participate in a Chef to School Program where local chefs visit the school and prepare a menu around food harvested by the 4th graders from the garden.

  • Lesson 1 – Patterns
  • Lesson 2 – Fibonacci – The Nature of Numbers
  • Lesson 3 – Biomimicry
  • Lesson 4 – Networks of Life
  • Lesson 5 – Interconnections of Elements
  • Lesson 6 – Photosynthesis
  • Lesson 7 – The Element of Water in the Desert
  • Lesson 8 – Power of a Raindrop
  • Lesson 9 – Soil Erosion
  • Lesson 10 – Mapping It Out
  • Lesson 11 – Saving Seeds
  • Lesson 12 – Chef Program
  • Lesson 13 – Preserving the Harvest

Grade 5 – Farmers’ Markets and Food Justice

Written by Kat Coveney, John S. Park Elementary School, and Juliana Urtubey, Crestwood Elementary School, with assistance from Tiffany Whisenant of Garden Farms

There are two units to the 5th grade lessons. Farmers’ Market Unit 1 focuses on training students how to create and run a successful Farmers’ Market. Students will learn how to write a business plan for their garden, how to figure out profits and losses as well as identify the garden’s expenses. Students will learn how to conduct market surveys to find out what their customers want, and how to create a successful advertising and social media campaign. Students will then run a farmers’ market in the fall and again in the spring, organized around harvest times.

Food Justice Unit 2 focuses on food justice in the community and around the world. Students will learn about the different kinds of agricultural practices, from large industrial farming to more sustainable farming and permaculture. Students will learn about pesticides and GMOs and possible alternatives. Students will learn what a food desert is and how to create a food desert map of their city. Students will learn about the Food as a Solution Bill of Rights.

  • Farmers’ Market Lesson 1 – Starting a New Business
  • Food Justice Lesson 1 – Where does our food come from? Part 1
  • Farmers’ Market Lesson 2 – Cost and Profit
  • Food Justice Lesson 2: – Where does our food come from? Part 2
  • Farmers’ Market Lesson 3 – Persuasive Writing and Creating a Successful Advertising Campaign
  • Food Justice Lesson 3 – Pesticides
  • Food Justice Lesson 4 – GMOs
  • Food Justice Lesson 5 –   Examining the Impact of Pesticides and GMOs on Sweet Potatoes
  • Food Justice Lesson 6 – Food Justice Simulation
  • Food Justice Lesson 7 – Food Bill of Rights
  • Food Justice Lesson 8 – Graphing Data on Food Deserts

The Gardener’s Toolbox       

Sarah Wagstaff, Garden Farms

How to Create a Successful Garden Team

Written by Jessica Penrod & Kylie Stransky, Green Our Planet

Fundraising & Events for your Gardens

Written by Ciara Byrne & Kylie Stransky, Green Our Planet

The Chef to School Program

Written by Shaun Pink, Green Our Planet

The Outdoor Garden Classroom: Hands-On STEM Curricula K-5 was funded by The American Honda Foundation and created by teachers from the Clark County School District in Association with Green Our Planet and Three Square.

Our Partners

Clark County School District - GreenOurPlanet.org
American Honda Foundation - GreenOurPlanet.org
three square - GreenOurPlanet.org

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