Going Green(house) at Gardner Newman
News From Diverse Power
When Gardner Newman Middle School students return to classes this month, some will make the school’s new hydroponic greenhouse their first stop. That’s because the greenhouse beckons youngsters to care for the plants they’ve grown—and to learn important lessons in the meantime, according to their teachers.
With funds from a Diverse Power Foundation educational grant, Gardner Newman Middle School kicked off their greenhouse project this time last year. With their science and math teachers leading the way, students developed plans for the project, taking part in everything from measuring for materials to build the greenhouse to calculating how much PVC pipe was needed to construct the hydroponic system.
“The kids took part in building the greenhouse as well,” says Stacie Bulloch, 8th grade science teacher. “They were involved in every single part of this yearlong project, and they take pride in it. Now they get so excited when they see what they’ve planted growing.”
In the greenhouse, students grow cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, lettuce, basil, oregano and lilies. A solar panel provides power and the hydroponic system allows plants to grow in water without soil. From building the greenhouse to caring for the plants they grow in it, students have studied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) content in a most-compelling way, according to Gardner Newman Principal Derek Potts.
“This is a great interactive project that goes beyond teaching in traditional ways to help kids move to forward-thinking,” says Potts.
The hydroponic greenhouse project is the type of innovative instructional project the Diverse Power Foundation seeks to fund, according to Diverse Power Senior Vice President/CFO Wade Hall.
“The students were involved in every aspect of the project,” says Hall. “They had to calculate the length of pipe needed based on the arch and circumference of the structure, they learned about gravity, and they took what they had learned in the classroom and applied it to a real-life situation. That’s what made this project special.”
Gardner Newman Middle School eighth graders, l-r, Rebecca Adams, Callie Carrington and Tyler Shirey check out the root systems on lettuce grown at the school’s hydroponic greenhouse. (Jackie Kennedy photo)