School gardens are learning laboratories which put the natural world at students' fingertips. In 1995, the California Department of Education determined that every school should have a school garden. Many Santa Clara County schools already have gardens, and others are planning to develop gardens in the near future. Children enjoy learning through the direct experiences a garden can provide. Learning gardens have the potential to:
- Integrate curriculum in science, nutrition, math, social studies, and language arts
- Connect children to the earth and the source of their food
- Enhance children's awareness and appreciation of the environment and agriculture
- Provide an alternative strategy for working with "at risk" students
- Increase students' self-esteem and create a sense of community, fellowship, and belonging
School gardens often depend on local volunteer efforts and support for their existence. For more information on resources available for school garden projects, contact the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 between 9:30 and 12:30 Monday through Friday.
Youth Experiences in Science (YES)
YES is a science education program for elementary school aged children and promotes age-appropriate scientific thinking and learning processes. YES is led by teens, who serve as trainers and facilitators for the activities, interacting with younger learners as they solve problems, record data, and make inferences in out-of-school setting. YES curriculum units include:
- Snail Trails: The Adventures of Helix Aspersa -- Children get to know some of the unique and interesting habits of land snails. Through observation and "snailing" activities, they are encouraged to ask questions and seek out answers.
- Magic Bubbles -- Bubbles provide a fun and interesting way for children to learn the processes of science. Hands-on experiences teach them to observe, communicate, compare, and organize information about bubbles.
- The Collection Connection -- As children develop and share collections, they use many of the same skills that scientists use everyday: observation, comparison, classification, and communication.
- Kitchen Science -- The kitchen is full of sensory experiences that encourage children to learn about scientific thinking processes in a fun, hands-on way.
- Wonderful Worms -- Worms provide a wonderful medium for applying science concepts and encouraging creative exploration in young children.
- Wee Cyclo-Saur-Us -- Activities in this unit help young children examine how to recycle and reuse products that are discarded daily. By charting their observations and keeping records, they learn about the effects of throwing things away.
- C.L.U.E. (Children Looking Undercover for Energy) -- Through their own actions, interpretations, and reactions to the activities in this unit, children build knowledge about different sources of energy.
To implement YES in your afterschool program contact Fe Moncloa, 4-H Youth Development Advisor at email@example.com or (408)282-3107.