I’ve done a few projects with students, and notice I say “with,” not “to” or “for”. The projects, they are theirs. Ever since students planned and hosted an election for kids around the country, I’ve known that involving kids in learning that travels outside the classroom walls? That’s what school is about. Learning isn’t in a book or in a desk. Learning is in the world.
So, I’ve watched as kids in my school have loved learning about plants, seeds, and growing. I’ve watched them dig into the dirt and garden, pluck oranges from the tree on our campus, and tell me the difference between a dicot and monocot. I wondered… how could this interest in plants translate into learning about the world. What sprouted? The Global Garden Project.
We’re inviting learners from around the world to join us in growing a global garden. Select seeds, start growing them in January, and then each week, we’ll all report our plant’s growth via a Google Doc. We’re also opening up our blog to share posts so students can show what’s growing where they live. The project won’t really have an end.
I’ve already had questions, “We’re in the middle of Winter, how can we join?” Grow your plant inside and let us know– and you’ve just helped us learn about seasons. Our friends in New Zealand participating will show us their garden growing in January and their warm temperatures. What better way to understand that the world has various seasons, climates, temperatures, and weather patterns than to work around them in growing a global garden?
I know what you might be thinking… plants aren’t in your curriculum. But, what IS in your curriculum.
Measurement. What units of measure will you use? How will you measure the plant growth? How will you record it? Inches using fractions? Centimeters using decimals?
Patterns. What do you notice about the data being reported? Whose plant is growing the most? Whose plant is growing the least? Do any of the plants show a certain week where their typical growth pattern was different? Why?
Data. How do find an average? How can I add all of these growth rates up using Excel? What is a mode? What do I do to figure out the median? What if some of us use inches and others centimeters, what would that look like for our data and results?
Charting & Graphing. How can you record your plant growth? What type of table could best organize your data? Which type of graph is best? How can you make a graph to show your plant’s growth? How might a graph show all of the plants’ growth over time? Can you create a graph of temperatures to show how the weather in Texas compares to the weather in New Zealand right now?
Public Speaking. Can you present to another class in the project, via Skype, about how the plant is growing? How can you summarize the data so your presentation will be concise, and engaging? What skills are important in a live presentation? What questions do we have for a botanist that we might have a Google Hangout with?
Writing. How might we write a friendly letter to another group in the project to learn about where they live and tell them about where we live? How do scientists use writing to summarize their data? Can you write a paragraph based on the data in your graph? How might we write a newspaper article for our local news about our project? What does a great blog post look like?
Area and Perimeter. When we transplant our seedlings into the garden, how much space should we allow between the plants? How big of a garden space do we have outside? How much fencing do we need to protect our plants from rabbits?
Internet Research. How do you perform a good search about plants? About other countries? What is a key word? How can you search faster and get more relevant information back?
Comparing and Contrasting. Why is the temperature so different in all parts of the world? Why are some plants growing faster than others? Does the rate of growth compare to the expected full size growth of the plant? Why do native plants here differ from native plants in another location?
Soil Composition. Is the soil in our ares of the state the same as the soil in another part of the world? How is different? What is in the soil that plants need?
Geography. What continent is this plant growing on? Is that a state or a country? Do plants in some parts of the world grow faster? We’ve even got a map of the world so we can zoom out and see how things are growing all around the world. We hope participants will add a pin and snapshot for us.
Okay.. that might have been overboard, but the best part? That’s not even ALL of the learning that this project could entail. Hook your kids. Set them free. Let them guide. See what happens! I know, plants might not be in ‘your curriculum’ this coming semester… but learning is, right? We hope you’ll join us. So kids can see what happens when a little seed is planted… and something really awesome grows. Something called learning.
This project is being planned with the help of some wonderful learners at Rainard School in Houston, Texas. We hope you’ll visit the project blog to learn all about it and sign up. We look forward to learning together.