Just days before the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship opened to the public as part of Earth Day celebrations, Muldown Elementary students got to enjoy their first lesson in the new facility.
First- and fifth-graders last week got to work inside the building constructing vertical gardens, using old plastic soda bottles, string and other various items to construct planters for a variety of plants and herbs. Students then got to take the planters home and continue to grow the plants outside of the classroom.
Introducing the CSE to the students, district curriculum director Ryder Delaloye told students to cherish the moment.
“Hold on to this, take this moment, create a mental picture in your mind, capture it and never let it go — because you’re the first class to learn at the CSE,” he said. “So welcome to the christening.”
Each first-grade student was paired up with a fifth-grader to help with the project.
Students could grow a variety of useful plants in their vertical garden, with choices like cilantro, chamomile and more.
The project is a unique way to incorporate agriculture, design and collaboration lessons in a hands-on way, Delaloye said.
“The vertical garden is a really cool project that helps us to engage students in a hands-on learning that is experiential,” he said. “These are different lessons they can use every day and they have a personal connection with them. So if a parent puts cilantro on their table, or they have pesto, they have a relationship with that healthy food.”
The collaboration factor is key, Delaloye said.
Integrating different grade levels and age groups into lessons help with learning for both parties and are part of the CSE’s mission.
“That was the design of this center, to have these kinds of events and activities. And also to have multi-age, to have mentoring, where you have fifth-graders and first-graders working together,” he said. “Most people would say, ‘No, you can’t do that, a first-grader can’t work at the same cognitive level as a fifth-grader.’ We’re seeing them work together right now. It’s super exciting.”