A new way to look at STEM and stems too

Most kids like to play in the dirt. Some kids like to learn from books and others prefer to learn hands-on as much as possible. And teachers want programs that engage both styles of learning with added benefits; perhaps fresh air, interaction with nature, a little physical exertion.

There aren’t many programs which are going to meet all of these specifications. But one definitely comes to mind – a school garden.

The benefits of school-based gardens have been well documented over the past ten years or so. Slow Foods USA has a plethora of articles available on the subject, citing stats to prove kids engaged in gardens on the school grounds “score significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who are taught by strictly traditional classroom methods.” And again, “children who are familiar with growing their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, and are more inclined to continue healthy eating habits through adulthood.”

And a school garden can affect not just the students, but in ever-widening circles, the neighborhood, community, and town or city: The American Community Gardening Association attributes community gardens to an increase in home prices for residences near the garden, a reduction in violent and non-violent crime in the neighborhood, and an overall increase in the feeling of safety.

So what’s the point? Well, doesn’t it make more sense for the kids at your neighborhood school to be out in the fresh air, getting exercise without realizing it, watching insects and birds and working with plants, instead of staring at a TV or computer screen? Might even be something in it for you, too. Imagine sharing a sun-warmed ripe tomato with your neighbor’s child or helping a dozen excited kids pick their first crop of green beans.

It’s something to think about over your morning coffee.

* By Terri Jenkins-Brady, Team Blogger