Sprouts, Soil, and Worms
So far, we have completed 14 of the 30 lessons that we have planned for this grant! Additionally, we have hosted a teacher-training workshop in partnership with the MU Office of Science Outreach, conducted a research project on K-12 teachers’ attitudes towards gardening education, and presented at education research conferences.
Most of the lessons that we have completed were vermicomposting lesson (10 of 14). The teachers and programs now have their own compost bins that they regularly feed scraps to help build healthier soils. The children are always excited to explore the worm bins and help learn about the environment for red wiggler worms.
The sprouting lessons (3 of 14) have been popular with teachers. The children learn how to conduct controlled experiments but also learn to grow their own sprouts. Students are skeptical in the beginning when we tell them that they are going to become scientists and farmers!
Sprouting, of course does not allow the students to see the plants fully develop but offers a great chance for learning. Sprouts that aren’t eaten after a couple of weeks end up withering away, allowing them to understand the importance of good soil for plant growth.
We have only conducted the soil analysis lesson with one class. This year, we plan to work with our extension soil lab to help schools and programs with gardens add appropriate and environmentally responsible amendments to their soil. This is a great opportunity to help teachers and children appreciate the value of healthy soil to a garden and a food system.
A central goal of our project is to share our work with the community. We have primarily done classroom visits, but also hosted training workshops, and visited education conferences. Initially, we planned to visit ten classrooms, but we actually visited 14 different programs and reached over 280 teachers and children. At our training workshop, 8 teachers, 10 children, and 5 university staff were using the educational materials provided by SARE. At the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference in Lexington, KY, a poster advocated for more school gardens and highlighted the NCR-SARE’s support for our project (more than 300 viewers). Just this week at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the project coordinator presented research on pre-service science teachers’ attitudes towards using sustainable agriculture education issues in K-12 classrooms (about 20 international audience members).
WORK PLAN FOR 2012
This year, we continue to work with teachers in Columbia public schools to help them better understand how to manage their soil and grow delicious sprouts. We have already completed all of the lessons for worm composting, but our worm population is still growing and there are more and more teachers requesting our help! The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture has 4 new Americorps VISTA members that will help build capacity and education opportunities with this project. We still have our budget for designing educational materials and our lesson plans and guides will be artistically finished this next year. Also, we are hoping to work with pre-schools and afterschool programs in our communities to help us meet the program goals.
Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture
214 Saint Joseph Street
Columbia, MO 65201
Office Phone: 5735144174