The spring session of the STEM gardening class concluded on 6/11. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, so thank you to Master Gardener, Mary for providing me with an overview of the class. The other Master Gardener from this session was Megan, who helped to lead this session.
The lesson began with the kids observing any signs of bug damage. Additionally, they planted marigolds to prevent the insects from intervening with the plants.
Next, Master Gardener Megan showed the kids how to build a rain gauge from an empty water bottle, and explained how it’s used. The kids learned that a rain gauge is an instrument measuring the amount of rainfall within a certain increment of time. The rain gauge helps us to evaluate how much rain has fallen per week - the ideal amount is about 1 inch.
Lastly, the kids learned about the importance of pollinating insects, such as bees, in the garden. To visualize this concept, Master Gardener Mary showed pictures comparing and contrasting the produce section of a Whole Foods market with pollinating insects present, and the section without pollinating insects. There was a drastic difference between the two, and the “without” section had few options and lacked the usual, abundant section of fruits and vegetables. As a hands-on activity, the children tasted honey made by Master Gardener Mary’s bees the previous Autumn and enjoyed it thoroughly.
These past weeks of helping with this class has been a very enriching experience for me, as it helped me to connect with the outdoor, interact with the children, and help to enhance their personal knowledge of gardening and its relation to STEM. One of the most fulfilling feelings was having the opportunity to harvesting and eating the produce we grew ourselves. I learned about the tools, techniques, and science behind growing your own vegetables and fruits. Additionally, I learned vital project management skills. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that has to be done to maintain the class, such as coordinating with Master Gardeners, finalizing the lesson plans, mid-week garden maintenance, buying special supplies for certain classes.
Thank you to Mike and Rosemarie Riccone, owners of the Creekside Farm for graciously offering us the use of their farm for this class, to Ryan Riccone for helping with the supplies at the farm. Thank you to all the Master Gardeners, Mary, Megan, Diane, Mike, Hugh, Sarah, Nell, Myles, Claire, and Debbie for offering their knowledge and imparting it to the children, and to the parents and children for bringing their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Lastly, thank you to JerseySTEM for providing the platform to make this class a possibility. Looking forward to the summer session.