Mrs. Avery's Project: Gardening in Science

Apartment Therapy + Donors Choose: Ready...Set...Grow!

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School: Herman Ridder JHS 98
City: New York, NY
Teachers: Mrs. Avery

Project:  I am so excited to grow plants with my students. At the workshop I attended, we did these same experiments. We took such pride in the plants we grew. We were invested in our experiments, and we learned a lot about the scientific process. I know my students will feel the same sense of accomplishment and love this project. This project also enables students to use their measuring and reading skills as they record data and do plant research. This project is very real-life, practical and fun!

→Donate to Mrs. Avery's students on Apartment Therapy's Donors Choose page.

My Students: Every year when I teach about the scientific method I use plant growth experiments as examples. I wonder, though, how many of my students have actually had any experience growing plants. I tend to find that many have little connection to plants and agriculture since they grew up in the city. 

I teach in the inner city of New York. My students are primarily from low income, working class families. Many have never been far outside their neighborhood, let alone to a farm. As such, they are far removed from agriculture and horticulture. My students are very eager to learn, but they always learn best from personal experience.

Reading a book about plant growth or hearing a presentation about controlled experiments with plants is never as effective as doing an experiment themselves. My students are far behind their peers in many basic skills, such as math and reading. We work very hard to improve these skills, but I also think science is very important for keeping their minds sharp and inquisitive. Designing experiments forces them to think, plan and carry out a proposal to learn about nature and their surroundings. I know that my students will be excited to grow their own plants as they carry out an experiment they designed.

My Project: I'm very excited about conducting plant experiments with my kids after practicing at a teacher workshop. We will primarily use bottle biology (grow our plants in empty coke bottles). I have been collecting bottles, but need soil and seeds to complete my supply list. Students will get two growth bottles. They will set up a control bottle and one where they change one variable. I am requesting potting soil, vermiculite, humus, sandy soil and clay soil. Students can use soil as their independent variable. I am also requesting many seeds so they can also choose to test different plants - kidney beans, peas, various vegetables and flowers. I am also requesting potting trays because first I will let students experiment with plants in these before we do the bottle experiments. Finally, I am requesting some herbs and carnivorous plants (and a terrarium) as extra, fun plants to grow while conducting our plant experiments. We also need a timer to keep the lights on during the weekend.

→Donate to Mrs. Avery's students on Apartment Therapy's Donors Choose page.

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Apartment Therapy + Donors Choose: Ready...Set...Grow!

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Janel Laban is the Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy and has been working here, at the dreamiest of dream jobs, since March 2006.