Student Garden Teaches Science and Sharing - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Student Garden Teaches Science and Sharing

Joplin, MO -

Science education at Joplin's west central elementary takes kids outdoors. With the help of a local architect and donations from several businesses, students are learning by working their own garden.

"Don't worry about getting your hands dirty!" Good advice from a fourth grader as they planted pumpkins in the school garden.

Michael Wischmeyer, who  missed gardening with his own kids, started the project last year with the help of teachers.
He explained,  "In the spring,  we started from seeds. The kids put seeds in cups, and we started a greenhouse in the concession room in the gymnasium. When the seeds started to sprout  in the spring, we brought the  kids out and they  planted these tomatoes,  squash and cantaloupe."

Alex Chojnacki  was one of those first gardeners and was amazed  seeing what grew over the summer.  "I was excited. That, ‘Oh my gosh! I    feel like a dad, that I’ve taken care of my plant."

"This is how we get water to it. Just put a dripper in," Wischmeyer showed students how to apply a tube from the garden’s irrigation system.

Fourth grade teacher, Vickie Gilbert said they meet state standards on plant life cycles through a hands on activity.
"It’s something that sparks an interest in them and makes them want  to know more."

The  students got to taste the fruits of their labor,  getting a dip of salsa made by Wischmeyer from the gardens vegetables.

Alexis Kahl said,  "It’s delicious."
Principal  Bret Ingle said that is part of the lesson, "Showing them that  hard work pays off."

Alexis added, "It makes me feel like  we can do much more than some of us think."

Rayne Waynick who helped plant the spring garden last year as a fourth grader said,  "You helping grow vegetables could help, like, give food to others."

They shared produce with the neighborhood this summer. Part of the goal of the garden is  to connect to the community.  And this year teachers are working to get parents involved.  Fourth grade mom, Mallory Long  got some of the purple okra, zucchini and cherry tomatoes at open house and sautéed them. She liked the effect on her son.

Alex Long said,  "We just cooked them and they were awesome"

Mallory said the school is blessed to have the program and someone willing to take the initiative because she sees the benefits. Mallory said,  "I think it’s important for them to know where our food comes from, how it grows and  encourage them to grow their own food."

That's Wischmeyer's hope too. He said  in a few weeks they'll plant kale and spinach.

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