Many help with building STREAM garden at Cradleboard Elementary
As schools switch over to Common Core standards, Whiteriver Unified School District has adopted a STEM initiative to help integrate all the subjects together. The STEM initiative is district-wide, with each school specializing in one or more units.
Cradleboard Elementary, about 10 minutes south of Hon-Dah, is one of those schools. As part of their STEM initiative, they have built a school garden; a STREAM garden. STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math. Curriculum is being developed to integrate these standards into the garden, so teachers can take their classes outside to measure the growth of plants, make observations in journals, and create digital posters with their iPads. The STREAM Garden was funded by a grant from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Program.
Over 50 students and community members came out April 26 to help build the garden, despite strong winds and threatening rain. Dads and teachers hauled topsoil in wheelbarrows. Toddlers used plastic rakes to smooth the soil. Grandmas watched over the kids painting rocks for the garden. Colleen Rustin, a grandma, watched the men build the beds and said, “You know? We can do that at home. We’re going to grow vegetables this summer.” Rustin then went on to gather other women in attendance to help build the remainder of the raised beds. The women spoke excitedly about making beds in the community this summer.
Each classroom gets their own raised bed, where teachers and students choose what to grow. Many teachers are growing vegetables and plants based on picture books they have read in class. Some teachers are growing theme gardens, such as a salsa garden, pizza garden and Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash).
Susan Rodriguez, the school STEM curriculum developer, has plans for a school cookbook next year. “Our goal is for the students to go home and talk with elders about traditional recipes. The students would then transcribe the recipes on the computer as part of the growing Common Core curriculum.”