Nancy Kaminash, teacher at
P.S. 10 – School of Math, Science and Technology
I teach science to grades K-2, but windowfarms would be shared with all the grades.
As the science teacher of grades K-2, I try to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to interact directly with the natural world around them. Window farms would most certainly afford my students a hands-on approach to learning and discovering the process of how living things grow and change, as well as to understand the needs of living things. It would allow them to observe and compare the different structures that enable a plant to thrive, and understand first-hand the life cycle of plants and how they respond to their environment. These are just a few of the basic standards that are part of the early childhood science curriculum. One great activity to delineate the different parts of plants would be to make a “”stone”" soup. We could use our vegetables from the window farm or each student could bring in a favorite vegetable from home. After sorting our vegetables we could discuss what parts of the plants are going to be used in our soup. For example, the cabbage, spinach and lettuce are the leaves of the plant, the radishes, carrots, etc. are the roots, the peas and beans are the seeds, and so forth. This activity not only demonstrates the “”value”" of each part of a plant, but it connects the student to the food which nourishes them and how nature supports us to grow and stay healthy.
There is a wealth of great literature regarding plants and gardening, such as “”Growing Vegetable Soup”" and “”Eating the Alphabet”" by Lois Ehlert, and “”One Bean”", by Anne Rockwell, just to name a few. There are art lessons to use an extension of this study, such as vegetable prints and fold out books of growing plants. Students can visit farmers’ markets and community gardens, and compare their window farm to vegetables that grow in soil All these activities and more would support our window farm study and enforce the concept of urban farming and really knowing about the foods we eat.
In addition, our school is truly embracing a green approach to living, whether it be through recycling, or learning about eating locally grown foods (our Green Committee recently put a salad bar in the lunchroom), or teaching students about composting. Window farms would support and incorporate so many of these concepts and it would be a creative and fun way to do it!
At P.S. 10, we want our students’ natural curiosities to develop into positive science experiences. For younger students the emphasis is on discovery and investigation. Window farms would naturally lead to the development of inquiry and process skills in science. Students may do an inquiry study on other ways we can help plants grow. This study might lead them to root an avocado pit, or soak beans in a clear jar with wet paper towels. They might discover that most plants grow from seeds, but some plants can grow from roots and stems, such as rooting a sweet potato in a jar of water and watching both roots and leaves emerge over time. We could make a potpourri garden where students bring up their seeds from their lunch and put them in a specifically designated terrarium to see what sprouts. Students would question, investigate and problem solve, as they observe the growth of our plants. When students understand the process of hydroponic plant growth, it will enable them to see different approaches to gardening and growing food.
Students keep science journals where they can communicate their ideas, make predictions, observe, collect and organize their “data”. Their journals are creative and imaginative, and filled with their observations, questions, and drawings. Students of all ages learn that part of being a scientist is to express your thoughts and explain your findings. Window farms would no doubt expand our students’ science literacy, and give our students ideas for discussion and sharing. Charts and graphs would be created monitoring the growth of our plants. Learning to work together to create a window farm environment is another way students can learn to work cooperatively and be part of a group effort.