2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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PS 165 at TC's Urban Science Education Gardening Project

Images

A junior gardener.

A junior gardener.

Preparations for Urban Gardening Project.

Preparations for Urban Gardening Project.

Children working in the Urban Gardening Project.

Children working in the Urban Gardening Project.

Elaine Howes, Assistant Professor of Science Education and faculty member with TC's Urban Science Education Center, started an Urban Gardening Project at Manhattan's PS 165 on Saturday, November 23rd. Schoolchildren and their families planted bulbs around trees in front of the school and in the playground.

"We are most interested in enhancing the science experiences that children experience in school. We want to open up opportunities for them and, perhaps, to continue on with science careers. Our goal is to make science more personally accessible, culturally relevant, and empowering for urban children," said Howes. "We work with community organizations such as Greenthumb and HarlemLive in our efforts to enrich children's and families' science experiences. Our gardening effort is an especially promising community-based project."

The planting on November 23rd was the first step in developing a garden space at PS 165. This is part of a collaborative project between the Urban Science Education Center, the Harlem Middle School for Math and Science (HMSMS) and PS 165, both District 3 schools. The garden at HMSMS, like the garden at PS165, will ultimately become a learning garden so that older youth continue to learn about urban ecology, environmental health, and plant growth and development. The garden will also provide younger children with a model of how older children have accomplished and study similar curricular issues-with support from the students and teachers who create and maintain the gardens. "This is more fun than video games," said one second grade boy.

The children from both schools will visit each other's gardens and the long-term plan is to have children and teachers from both schools communicate with each other in person and electronically about the science concerns that emerge from their respective gardening projects.

This project has grown out of the interest of the principals, teachers, Teachers College students, and of the children themselves, who have expressed excitement and interest. The gardening projects are part of the Urban Science Education program at Teachers College, which provides teacher education students with rich opportunities to collaborate with schools and to practice teaching in ways that are not confined by the standard curriculum of classroom life.

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