Kids, their teachers, and their families learning from one another
The educational mission of the greenhouse is to serve elementary-school children in the Urban Education Alliance District and in under-served schools in the St. Louis area.
With support from Saint Louis University's School of Education, teachers will be able to participate in two main ways:
By visits. Classes from Alliance schools will come once each week to the facility for eight-week growing encounters. Participating schools throughout St. Louis will bring in children for field trips and will be able to check out equipment for their own classrooms.
By distance learning. Schools everywhere will be able to access on-line videos produced by the greenhouse and to stream live lessons from the facility.
From the start, teachers have been intimately involved in designing the facility and its programs, with three guiding visions:
Teachers teaching teachers
- Teachers will devise their own lesson plans and curricula, with materials and support from the School of Education and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University.
- They will share their most successful ideas through informal exchanges and summer workshops.
Children teaching children
- Teams of children will plant, cultivate, harvest, and evaluate their own plantings, learning science, growing, and nutrition with hands in growing-beds and cooking spoons in bowls.
- More experienced students will teach beginners, providing models for the younger children.
Staff members and volunteers mentoring more advanced students
- Committed high-school students will help with tours, after-school tutoring, and summer camps.
- Those with a heart for learning will be tracked, supported, and encouraged to go on to college.
Along with such subjects as art, writing, history, and business, the facility will focus on:
- Urban agriculture: Children will experience new methods of environmentally and economically sustainable local growing.
- Nutrition: Kids will learn to prepare fresh produce and fish raised at the facility in order to:
- Bring home what they produce to cook for their families in culturally appropriate and tasty ways
- Learn basic business skills by helping to sell produce at the facility one Saturday a month.
- STEM subjects: Topics will range from the life-cycle of plants and fish to the solar cycle, soil and water chemistry, native Missouri crops, ecology, sustainable design, and green engineering.
The facility will also provide educational programming to under-served children and families elsewhere in St. Louis (and beyond). It will offer
- Internet resources. The facility will be equipped like a television studio, with instructional videos and live-streaming available on its website.
- Brief Learning encounters. Various tours will be offered, focusing on topics in growing, nutrition, science, or sustainability.
- First Monday Talks. Presentations by area experts will explore themes linked to the mission of the greenhouse.
- After-School programs. Activities will be organized by Alliance schools and nearby churches.
- Summer Camps. Groups from Saint Louis University, the Botanical Garden, the YMCA, and other organizations will be invited to include visits to the greenhouse in summer experiences for children.
- Professional Development Courses. Teachers and growers will be able to use the facility to share ideas and methods.
- Summer Institutes. Academics and professionals will explore advanced topics relevant to the mission of the facility.