Planting The Garden
At Brandeis Elementary School, students learn by doing.
It’s a core component of the school’s STEAM emphasis. Brandeis aims to encourage experimentation, questioning, and hands-on learning. This year’s hands-on learning project requires those hands to get a little dirty along the way.
The students are planting a garden, from seed to harvest and in all sorts of weather. And yes, they’ll get to enjoy the (literal) fruits of their labor.
Helping Students Bloom
Dr. Shervita West is the principal at Brandeis Elementary School. She says that their STEAM curriculum is an effective way to nurture the curiosity she sees as an innate part of childhood.
The gardening focus this year spans all sorts of projects in a variety of subject areas. Students study the plant cycle, seed germination, and soil nutrients in their science courses, of course. But, their math classes use their gardening project as the vehicle for math content. Language arts class does the same.
And then there’s the STEAM lab. Students are making stop-animation videos and public service announcements with their teacher, Nathan Cole. Cole says that students buy into the curriculum when they see it transcend a single lesson or classroom.
School Is Fertile Soil For Learning
Soil has been a major topic of discussion and study for Brandeis students. Students studied the makeup of the soil in their garden beds to determine if it was a fertile and nurturing environment for their plants of choice.
Dr. West loves watching the students blossom in their academic understanding and character. She sees her role as similar to that of the soil in the garden beds outside the classroom.
“You have to have an environment that's conducive to learning. It has to be one that is enriched with positivity, and allows for there to be a creative process that happens,” she said.