A garden adds a pleasant aesthetic to its surroundings. For children, it can open the doors to a career in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – pathways that are often overlooked by those that are underserved in our community.
Studies have shown that school gardens are tied to higher science grades and better eating habits. And at schools attended largely by low-income students, school gardens can be particularly beneficial – they can help address some of the disadvantages students at those schools tend to face.
United Way has helped build countless school gardens throughout our community, most recently at our second HEAL site, Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School, and at Wesley Matthews Elementary, where an area was repurposed as a garden. At Wesley Matthews Elementary, the school’s wellness committee and its teachers even went so far as to tie the garden from STEM to STEAM, adding art activities for students.
“When given the opportunity to explore the environment and learn about how things grow, I find that students are extremely eager,” said Thi Squire, the community garden project manager who facilitated the gardens through HEAL on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida. “They embrace the hands-on experience that does not take place in the classroom.”
These gardens offer a potential solution to the lack of racial diversity in STEM fields. Gardening in schools has also been linked to improved motivation in science and math, because they have access to a hands-on learning environment. Children learn to think critically and apply their academic knowledge. Gardens not only connect them to nature, but also provide multiple opportunities to practice and enrich academic concepts.
“It is an opportunity to engage all of their senses: sight, touch, smell, and sound. This is a holistic approach to learning that I find extremely effective,” Squire continued.
This is the perfect time to start a garden. Want to garden with your children at home? Click here for a simple, step-by-step guide for growing beans in cotton.