THE EARTH STEWARDSHIP PROJECT
The Earth Stewardship Project is a cross-disciplinary project-based scientific endeavor that addresses concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and environmental science. This project provides students with the opportunity to develop 21st century skills and abilities and the self-efficacy to confront complex multidisciplinary challenges as both problem solvers and as innovators.
The genius of the Earth Stewardship Project stems from years of research and design of new educational pedagogy that most effectively addresses the learning of concepts in science. This new project involves student research and experimentation into the physical and chemical conditions necessary to optimize plant growth while utilizing natural organic fertilizers and carbon-free sources of energy. The goal of the project is to find the best means by which to produce organically grown herbs and vegetables. A number of innovative methodologies will be investigated by students conducting experiments during this year-long project. The essential components of the project are the following: Developing hydroponics plant systems, designing aquaponic fish- plant systems, creating multiple greenhouse plant production units and cultivating the production of vermicompost from worm farms.
Students will be involved in the physical and chemical alteration of plant growing mediums. Scientific measurements of soil densities, moisture content, pH, nutrient concentrations, and plant vitality will help to frame the desired plant growth process. The objective of the project is for the students to discover optimal growing conditions that will maximize the overall garden productivity. Throughout this long-term scientific research project students will be in consultation with plant experts, experiment with new ideas to increase plant vitality, collect data, analysis results, write conclusions, design prototype models and publish their findings.
The Earth Stewardship Project challenges students initial understanding that they bring to the classroom in chemistry, physics and biology, but it goes further emphasizing the need to test and design more productive plant systems. Students will focus upon critical factors that influence plant growth. This process of doing science requires applying researched ideas into the development of new prototype designs that contribute to plant growth and vitality.
From the genius as an isolated classroom science project, the Earth Stewardship Project will grow to have influence upon the entire school building community. Besides the direct hands-on learning aspect of this project in the science classroom, it can influence curricula in math, business and the language arts as these students are asked to contribute their skills and abilities to help support the project. This rippling effect is influential upon other academic disciplines and will be an important contributing factor to establishing a culture of inquiry within the school creating an institution of learning.