Nature Farming at Wheeler Elementary
The students at Wheeler Elementary continue to benefit from their experiences with the school's nature garden. Their hands-on experiences in the garden rub off on test scores, with grades 3 and 5 scoring 83% in reading and 84% in math.
1. expand student educational opportunities and encourage career choices in agriculture
2. promote good stewardship of the land
3. enhance farmers' quality of life
4. encourage application of nature farming
Students in grade 5 continue to be the primary participants in the Wheeler Elementary School Nature Garden Project. They received information and guidance from farmers of the Mokichi Okada Association, the University of Hawaii, and other local farmers. They visited nearby nature farms to enhance the learning experience.
Students in grades K-4 were included in this year's project. Each grade level was alloted a set area of land to use with a focus on connecting the nature garden to the language arts, math, and science curriculum of each grade level. An emphasis on meeting the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards guided the activities of each grade level. The activities included an inquiry process, which asked the students to make hypothesis and validate them through activities.
All grade levels K-5 participate in all activities from preparation, to maintanance, to marketing. We have hired one assistant this year to provide teachers and students the help needed to ensure positive experiences in the nature garden.
We continue to use a crop rotation system to rebuild the nutrients in the garden without the use of chemical fertilizers. Pest control is also maintained by experimenting with a wide range of flowers and ornamentals that have pest- repellent characteristics. Bountiful crops of soybean, corn, and eggplant are the primary plantings in the nature garden.
Begining in school year 2004-2005, the State of Hawaii will be assessing students in the area of science. We are optimistic that the nature garden experience will enable our students to have opportunities that will ensure proficient scores in science. (Science scores will be available in the fall of 2005.)
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We continue to score well as a school on the SAT 9 and have scored at the state average on the Hawaii State Assessement. The 2004 scores are listed below.
It is the unquantifiable data including confidence, self-esteem, and responsibility that have had the greatest impact on our students. With the deployment of 80% of our parents to Iraq and Afghanistan, we attempt to provide a more whole experience for our students. The nature garden has been, and continues to be, a place our students want to be, and the activities are ones that they ask for. The parents and the community continue to support the nature garden by volunteering time to maintain and improve the physical facility, and the parents provide positive role models for their children.
We continue to receive media attention for the project, and many local schools have cloned the idea in their own way.
SAT 9 Stanines 4-9 2004
Grades 3 & 5 83%
Grades 3 & 5 84%