“The kids are loving their time outside! The garden and the students are flourishing!’
– Liberty Elementary School Principal Tim Greenwell
Across Lewisville ISD, educators work to create interactive and hands-on learning opportunities. In elementary science, investigations – what might have been called experiments in another generation – are the cornerstone of interactive learning.
“Kids love hands-on learning,” Liberty Elementary first grade teacher Debbie Evans said. Pictures in books may be designed to show the things first graders need to learn in science: soil types, plant parts, human-animal-plant interaction and the plant life cycle, but real plants, in real dirt excite the kids and engage them in lessons they don’t forget. “They get so excited to see things grow,” Evans continued. “They look forward to the results of the investigation. They want to know what will grow faster, bigger.”
Thanks in part to funding from you, our LEF partner, Liberty was able to build an outdoor learning area, complete with raised beds for each classroom, where students can participate in living, blooming science investigations on a large scale.
“There is an active committee of teachers that guide garden usage and provide tie-ins to the curriculum for instruction,” Greenwell explained. The entire Liberty community lends a hand. “We have had a student council clean up day in there and a staff clean up day as well,” Greenwell added. “An Eagle Scout candidate built a fence around it this past summer and a fifth grade teacher added two compost bins to add in that element of learning.”
Liberty first-grade students have seen a complete cycle already this year. In the fall they planted vegetable seeds. Students tended plants and charted the growth of chard, radishes and carrots. The day before Thanksgiving Break, they were able to harvest their vegetables and celebrate with and Friendship Feast.
“Not only did students get to see the plants grow and learn science concepts,” Evans said, “But then we were able to tie it back to social studies. The first Thanksgiving feast was all about sharing the harvest, and each student was served a portion of the harvest they helped create.”
Now that it’s spring, the science focus shifts from vegetables to flowers. First grade students planted petunias in their section of the garden. “We also planted inside, using lamps to provide light for one set of plants, and indirect sunlight from the window for another set,” Evans explained. “We’ll measure plants and analyze which type of light seems best.”
And they’ll answer some hard questions. Evans’ class participates in science a little later in the day than some of the other first grade classes.
“Wait, we just got out here, but that class already planted their plants!” one student said as they prepared to put plants in the garden last week. “That might not be fair – their plants will surely be bigger than ours because they had a head start!”
Evans isn’t sure the 90-minute head start will really make a difference, but her students will be measuring very carefully over the next few weeks to find out for certain!
“Thank you once again for helping our dream of building an outdoor learning environment at Liberty become a reality through the awarding of an LEF Grant!” Greenwell said.