Our Garden STEM Curriculum
With a grant from the American Honda Foundation, Green Our Planet hired a group of horticulturists and a team of teachers from the Clark County School District to create a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum geared toward the school garden. The curriculum follows Nevada State and Next Generation Science Standards and was published online in September 2014. The Garden STEM curriculum engages students’ curiosity and creates excitement around science and math through hands-on experiential learning in school gardens.
The lessons in the STEM curriculum build upon one another from one grade to the next. By the time a student reaches third grade, he or she understands the entire ecosystem of a garden–from the importance of sunshine and water to the role soil and insects play in the success of a garden. In fourth grade, students expand their horizons to understand the role of their garden as part of the natural world. In fifth grade, the students see how growing food locally can impact their community and the health of an entire city.
Each grade level focuses on specific concepts in our Garden STEM curriculum.
- Pre-K students are garden explorers, and they learn how to explore the garden using their senses.
- Kindergarten students learn the basic elements behind the garden ecosystem from the importance of sunshine and water to their own role as caretakers of the garden.
- First-graders learn to identify the key stages of the life cycle of plants and review the basic needs for each stage of a plant’s life cycle.
- Second-grade students are garden detectives. Armed with their science journals, they observe insects in the garden to learn about insect feeding preferences and how those preferences impact the ecosystem of the garden. Second-graders add to their previous knowledge by learning how to encourage beneficial insects and how to discourage harmful insects in the garden.
- Third-grade students learn all about soil and analyze how weather, climate and erosion affect soil and plant growth.
- Fourth-grade students focus on natural systems and explore the flow of energy and inputs and outputs in the school garden setting.
- Fifth-graders learn how to create and run their own school garden-centered business for a farmers market. They also study food justice in the local community and around the world.