Greenspaces offer California students experiential science lessons
- Schools in California's San Francisco Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified, Berkeley Unified and San Diego Unified School Districts are among those adding value to science and environmental curricula under the state's new science standards by converting campus space into gardens with a variety of flora.
- EdSource reports that a 2014 study by school sustainability consulting firm Inverness Associates found 68% of 520 schools in the state surveyed had gardens, while 43% reported having programs that worked the gardens into curriculum.
- Longterm goals for environmental education in the state — which exists beyond science in its history and social studies standards, as well — were detailed in 2015, specifying that school gardens could contribute to students understanding the importance of a healthy environment.
The concept of experiential learning has gained significant traction in recent years as educators look to connect lessons and concepts from the classroom to the real world. By creating greenspaces on school grounds, sometimes taking more than an acre, schools allow teachers an opportunity to show students a little slice of nature firsthand, whether that be by examining various plants, bugs and other life, or by allowing them to plant their own vegetables — and later cook them in a culinary class — so they understand where produce comes from, as is the case at Northern Virginia Montessori school Berthold Academy.
Science isn't the only subject area where schools are finding ways to offer students hands-on experience. In suburban St. Louis, Kirkwood High School Principal Mike Havener has taken a hands-off approach to student journalism to offer students a first-hand civics experience around the First Amendment. Under the approach, students are allowed to publish or broadcast stories that could be seen as controversial or inappropriate at the high school level, as long as the content is not hateful or hurtful.
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