School Gardens ~ Sowing Seeds of Service

Overview A school rooftop garden becomes a classroom extension for science and math investigations. Urban children apply Internet agricultural research to their container garden located high among downtown buildings. Using software to plan their garden, they germinate seeds in the classroom, observe and record the life cycle of plants, study the impact of environmental factors on plant growth, and share a computer slide show. Helping plant and care for the garden are local seniors whose wisdom enriches this experiment in cultivating classroom and community.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Consult with landscape designer about roof garden.
Use Metric Measuring for model & actual plan.
Photograph process.
Record reflections in journal.
Plant seedlings in containers.
Do Acid Rain Experiment.
Use sunflower for Estimation and Pattern Discovery.
Track temperatures & graph results.
Prepare computer slide show (or download, 1.1 MB) & word process script.
Include parents & seniors from local center in process.
Share measuring & gardening tasks with seniors & parents.
Continue to share photographs & reflections with seniors.
Give progress tours for school & community-at-large.
Present collages to seniors.
Post results of acid rain experiments & temperature graphs in school & senior center bulletin boards.
Present computer slide show (or download, 1.1 MB) to school community, parents & senior center.
Interview Landscape Designer.
Investigate the world of outdoor design: landscape architects, horticulturists, sculptors, graphic designers, topiary specialists.
Do Internet search on Leonardo Fibonacci who first observed special number patterns in nature.
Discuss math careers: computer programmers, accountants,etc.
Study science careers in environmental testing & protection.

Learning Standards Math
Estimate & measure lengths & distance in meters & centimeters.
Demonstrate use of simple measuring tools & record findings.

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Employ a variety of formats & utilize technology to complete & enhance work.

Learning Standards Science
Conduct a scientific inquiry.
Employ equipment & tools to gather information.
Use evidence, inference, & models to construct a reasonable explanation.
Communicate investigations & explanations

School to Career Competencies
Develop Communication & Literacy Skills.
Organize & Analyze Information.
Use Technology.
Complete Entire Activities.
Use Team Skills.

Assessment Students' math and science skills are evaluated by classroom quizzes and tests; computer slide presentation and script assessed during shared reflection and feedback sessions.

Software or Materials Used Complete LandDesigner 3D software, Sierra Home; A Seed is a Promise , Claire Merrill 1990: Scholastic

Web Sites For more on: Gardening for Kids ; Yahoo Weather!

Keywords Service Learning, Gardens, Metric Measurement, Landscape Design, Horticulture, Acid Rain, Fibonacci Series

Final Words This yearlong unit not only fulfills several math and science standards, but also teaches civic virtues like responsibility and environmental awareness. Students value the input of senior citizens who are experienced gardeners/farmers from Asia.

Teacher Tip Using a digital camera to record garden progress stimulates writing. My students know that every photo they take means a caption, an explanation, a story, or a reflection.

E-mail contact Lai Lai Sheung

Teacher Bio Lai Lai Sheung, third grade bilingual teacher at Josiah Quincy Elementary School, has received a grant from Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc. As Boston Public Schools 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. This math and science curriculum coach for the Office Of Instructional Technology helps her colleagues integrate technology into the curriculum.

Subject Areas Math, Science, English Language Arts, Technology

Grade Levels K - 12

Students All students from all programs


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