The recent unveiling of Swain’s Field of Dreams project provided an exciting real life, hands-on learning opportunity for our sixth grade scientists. Led by science teacher Jen Mitchell, students were charged with researching various possibilities to be included in the Barbara Schuster Memorial Learning Garden section of the front lawn renovation. Students prepared presentations for Swain’s landscape architect in order to try to persuade him to choose their plants.
The process began when Mrs. Mitchell provided a list of possible plants, which students researched on their iPads. Students focused on each plant’s physical description, growth (spread and height), needs (sunlight, water, soil type, environment), and special characteristics (deer resistance, pollinator attractors, medicinal/edible properties, and historical use). Students were also required to label the parts of the flowers, indicate how the plant reproduces and categorize the type of plant.
Mrs. Mitchell credits this experience as providing learning opportunities well beyond a traditional science lesson. Students were excited to make a contribution to The Swain School that would live on well beyond their time here. Realizing their research would be taken seriously by an expert in the field, they engaged deeply with the material, learning more about the plants and the purpose of a rain garden. They showed great creativity in composing their presentation boards in order to try to attract the attention of the decision makers. They also continued to hone their public speaking skills by making their case in front of peers and adults.
The results were recently announced and the winners are:
Acorus americanus – Sweet Flag
Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed
Iris versicolor – Blue Flag
Pontederia Cordata – Pickerelweed
Panicum vergatum – Shenandoah Switchgrass
Rudbeckia hirta – Black-eyed Susan
Solidago rugosa – Goldenrod
Schizachyrium scoparium – Little Bluestem
Carex scoparia – Broom Sedge
No matter whose plants were chosen, all of our sixth graders should be proud of the effort they put forth in this project.