We're overdue for an update! (We've been busy gardening, composting, harvesting, cooking, eating, and discovering.) Here's a brief snapshot of what's going on in our schools lately.
At SWS, kindergarten students spent the day harvesting sugar snap peas, carrots, and green beans from the garden, which they turned into a garden vegetable and soba noodle soup. The kids immediately coined it "rainbow soup" for all its colorful veggies! Later, students used cut vegetables and paint to make vegetable prints with the art teacher.
Over at Watkins Elementary, fourth graders studied decomposition this week. In the beds that we have cleared for the winter, students buried 5 items: a kale leaf, part of a pepper, a large metal paperclip, a piece of paper, and part of a styrofoam plate. They made predictions as to what each item will look like when we dig them up in a month. Some predicted that the pepper would be mushy and brown. One thought that a kale plant would grow. The paperclip would not change. The paperclip would change. The styrofoam would change to black. It would not change. The conversation transformed into logical questions about why and how these these possible outcomes could occur. And together, the class defined the process of decomposition. The anticipation is great among these fourth graders as they continue their everyday life while wondering if something else is going on underground in the garden at the same time.
In second grade, we started a lesson on microorganisms and their important role in decomposition. We first conducted an experiment using a "mystery" ingredient, sugar, and warm water. We observed the mystery ingredient and described it. Teacher Jane Hellewell asked them if it was living or not living. Two thought it was living and the rest thought nonliving. We combined the ingredient, sugar and water in a glass jar and put the mouth of a balloon on the opening. Predictions were made and we put the bottle aside. Then we made pizza. To make the pizza dough, Ms. Hellewell told them that the same ingredients we used for the experiment are ingredients used for pizza dough. Each table added warm water to the mystery ingredient. They watched it. And all at once, there was an amazing sight as the yeast bloomed! The students' eyes got wide. One student looked at Ms. Hellewell and exclaimed, "I love science!" Through these hands-on activities, we discovered what a microorganism is. Then were were able to explore their importance in the garden, in our bodies. Students learned that there are so many more good microorganisms that bad. They were able to connect the importance of microorganisms to the process of decomposition. Each student got a red wriggler worm in a petri dish and a magnifying glass, and drew an observational drawing of this microorganism. After cleaning up and washing hands, the pizza was ready. We enjoyed a meal of pizza loaded with veggies from our garden and a salad to compliment it.
Throughout first grade, we will explore the concept that we eat different parts from different plants. For example, we eat the root part of a carrot plant but normally not the stem or leaves. We also eat the leaves of a kale plant but not the roots. We will also follow up on our experiment with our adopted plant in the garden and harvest it. Students made predictions on what it may be. Some said radish, kale, broccoli, peppers. We have been collecting data since the beginning of the school year measuring its height, width, and its circumference. Are you wondering what our adopted plant is? It has big leaves, it is in season, and we eat the green flower.