The garden offers teachers a chance to talk about planting, soil erosion, irrigation, composting, renewable energy and more.
FINDLAY, Ohio — In elementary school, every student gets some form of an earth science lesson.
But one school in Findlay took its classroom outdoors this year.
Behind Bigelow Hill School is the students’ favorite place outside of their classroom.
And no, it’s not the playground; it’s the school ecology garden.
It began as an idea to beautify the school grounds and grew into a hands-on experience for faculty and students.
“Students had shovels and they moved the soil, they dug holes for the plants and there was such enthusiasm and camaraderie and ownership,” Beth Ann Nissen, project-based learning coach at Bigelow Hills Intermediate School, said.
Bigelow teachers can now use the garden as a hands-on teaching tool for a multitude of earth science lessons.
School leaders say it wasn’t supposed to be this big this quickly, but partners in the community stepped up to donate products and time to make the garden a reality.
“We thought that where we’re at now would be maybe a year or two down the road in another school year,” librarian assistant Rochelle Manley said. “And it really came together because of community members saying ‘Hey, we can help. Hey, what about that?'”
The hope is the hands-on lessons these students learned this year, like composting, birdhouse building, renewable energy and more can have a lasting impact on these students
“If more people started doing this, planting stuff and doing all of this stuff with the mulch and all of that, then less soil will get washed away,” student Anthonie Ashley said.
“They do some science hands-on things in the classroom, they read and learn about the vocabulary. But now they’re presented with a real-world problem, we have this beautiful garden, where do you think the soil might be running off and how can we prevent that,” Nissen said.
The school will also host Garden Guardians this summer to allow even more engagement while school is out for summer break.
“I think during the summer, it will give kids a purpose to do over the summer to take care of plants and watch the garden grow,” 5th grader Carter Tiell said.
The goal is to use the Bigelow Hill School Ecology garden every school year and try to find different ways to utilize this space.
There are also talks of a potential fundraiser to eventually build a pavilion here as well for some cover.