We began to layer what we’d learned in the classroom, seeing how everything is connected. Students understood on a gut level that nature has designed itself to provide for us. But there’s always hands-on work to do, which is what our students love, especially in the garden. They tended to the radish plants by thinning them and did likewise with carrots. They learned how to read seed packets and were taught about the importance of spacing and depth when planting.
Students also discovered the different uses of plants, which preserve the environment by favoring natural materials over synthetic. They learned how plants not only provide us with our nutritional needs but also provide for medicinal needs. For example, they can serve as insect repellents for both humans and plants. To validate this lesson, we made all natural bug spray and a lavender pillow for headaches.
The UDSP is a special combination of classroom learning, experiential education, and field trips. This week's outing was a tour of the Queens Botanical Garden, with a special focus on bees. Our host gave us many ideas for how to encourage bees to come to our own garden through proper design.
Students designed board games based on everything they’d learned the first three weeks. They learned that problem-solving can be fun when using their natural skills and resources available. Designing these games presented challenges, but everyone relied upon their creativity and teamwork to get the job done. They got so engaged, they begged to continue all day.
As a follow-up to our field trip, students were taught how important bees are, ecologically. They also learned about the anatomy of flowers and what exactly pollination is (the transfer of pollen to allow for fertilization). They quickly made the connection: no bees = no pollination = no seeds = no food! Bees are vital to the wellbeing of humans. The following day, the UDSP crew designed their own pollinator garden. They incorporated everything they’d learned at Queens Botanical Garden to take care of our bees.