By Linda Dillman
Green thumbs are growing at Canal Winchester Middle School.
The school is working with a Battelle STEM Ohio design challenge promoting teamwork in designing a solution for food security.
Eighth grade math teacher Sheree Daily and science teacher Pat Mariscal reported on the innovative curriculum project, first conducted during the 2018-19 school year, at the Canal Winchester Board of Education’s Oct. 21 meeting.
“It all tied in with collaboration and critical thinking,” said Mariscal. “We started them (the students) with a challenge and they worked together.”
The challenge? Work as a team to imagine, design and prototype a solution to increase food security in your life, community or world. Students were grouped through their interests into 16-17 teams.
In fall 2018, the student-led teams decided to grow edible plants in a pair of hydroponic water towers donated by Mount Carmel Hospital and the Franklin County Healthy Food Access Program.
Through trial and error, students learned how to germinate, plant, pollinate and care for a variety of herbs and vegetables. In November, daily connection activities promoted interest in the design challenge while addressing middle school core values.
“The kids had to check everything on a daily basis,” said Daily, “and while watching a movie, they ate vegetables they grew instead of popcorn. Through their gardening efforts, they worked on food security in the community.”
Mariscal said students also learned about different cultures and what they grew in their gardens.
In addition to the hydroponic gardens and as part of the design challenge, students researched different types of gardens such as rooftop, raised beds, and container gardening in advance of presentations to Battelle representatives, community members and school personnel earlier this year.
“We then had an exhibition night in mid-March,” Mariscal said. “They presented their prototypes and evaluations were conducted. We were then allowed to bring one group to a showcase at Battelle in May.”
On May 6, 106 middle school students ended the school year by organizing and filling 20 garden beds on the grounds of the Canal Winchester Human Services building for senior citizens living nearby, in addition to gathering all the debris and planting their own garden plot on the property.