Rooftop Garden

  Big Picture
Urban children apply Internet agricultural research to their container garden located high among downtown buildings. Helping plant and care for the rooftop school garden are local seniors whose folklore and wisdom enrich this experiment in cultivating classroom and community.

Math, Science, Technology
Grades 2-5

The rooftop garden becomes a classroom extension for science investigations. Children, along with neighboring seniors and collaborating City Year interns:
Observe and record the life cycle of plants.
Study the impact of environmental factors on plant growth.
Germinate seeds in the classroom.
They harvest strawberries, tomatoes, beans, radishes, and magnificent watermelon.

Transporting soil, fertilizer, and tools to the roof becomes lessons in weights and measurement. A compost bin is a necessity and a learning focus. Using metric rulers, rain gauges and thermometers enables students to collect and graph data on rainfall and temperature changes. First hand observations are bolstered by Internet research and literature.
Lai Lai Sheung

Teacher Profile

Lai Lai, a third grade bilingual teacher at Josiah Quincy Elementary School, has received a grant from Mass. Agriculture in the Classroom Inc. As a BPS Lead Teacher, Mentor Teacher, and Science Standards Facilitator, she is recipient of the Althea Lindsey Teacher of the Year Award and the Mass. Environmental Affairs Secretary's Award for Excellence in Environmental Education.

Books and Materials

A Seed Is a Promise
by Claire Merrill; Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney; The Story of George Washington Carver by Eva Moore; The Empty Pot by Demi; How the Ox Star Fell From Heaven by Lily Toy Hong; gardening supplies, measuring tools

Technology Tools

Computers, digital camera, graphing software, Internet


Special #1
How Many Seeds?

Special #2

Acid Rain: How Does It Affect Plants?

Special #3

How Big Is the Dream Garden? Metric Measuring

Special #4
Thermometer Literacy


Inner-city children who labor in the garden not only fulfill several math and science standards but also learn civic virtues like responsibility and the joy of community service. Students value the input of senior citizens who are experienced gardeners/farmers from Asia. Best of all, everyone savors the sweetness of home grown produce.