Every Friday Harbor Elementary School student will have a chance to design, construct and grow an outdoor garden—with help from professional mentors and volunteers.
This is just one of the many exciting new events occurring at FHES.
A new program called the STEM Project (also known as the FHES Outdoor Lab Garden Project) has been launched with the goal of planting an outdoor garden for kids to enjoy and understand the beauty and complexity of natural science; all whilst performing numerous hands-on activities throughout the enclosure.
Botanists and illustrators will be provided by:
The San Juan Islands National Historical Park
San Juan Nature Institute
The San Juan Islands Chapter Washington Native Plant Society
San Juan Island Grange
Others — a landscape architect, soil scientists, entomologists, geneticists, and mycologists will take part and act as guides for the students and teachers. Both teachers and students, alike, will benefit from the help of these assistants by learning fascinating new concepts such as how a garden operates and the use of renewable energy - and why it's so important, amongst a few others. The garden will also stress the importance of using recyclable resources—water and nutrients—the usage of local materials, and sustainable, renewable energy.
There are several garden-based activities the students will participate in: landscape architecture, botanical illustration, plant systematics, genetics, soil chemistry, mycology and entomology with our local scientists—all of which will be complex and absorbing to the kids who participate in these challenging tasks.
Hands-on learning and knowledge will be gained through the hard work of the students and they will also examine and review such classroom topics as geology, botany, plant physiology and zoology.
The outdoor lab will also incorporate three topics:
Food production—the main layout and background as to how food is correctly produced
Healthy exercise and eating—how to make good food choices and maintain a long and healthy life
Science education—further knowledge and activities to boost the brain on science.
This garden will benefit the FHES students by allowing them to explore the unseen world of science where they can observe the growth of plants, examine the behavior of pollinators, experiment with the chemical transfers between plant roots, bacteria and fungi, analyze and contrast composting and recycling methods with one another, and simply delve—headfirst—into an environment where it’s both secure and entertaining to get your hands dirty.
I think it's safe to say that the Friday Harbor Elementary School students have their hands full—and caked with nutrient-rich soil!