Environmental science class transforms storage space into green classroom

Keystone Oaks School District  |  Posted on

High school students flipped a storage space into a green classroom this year.

When first year environmental science teacher Madelyn Kay discovered a green room being used as a place to store old equipment and the remnants of science experiments, she knew there was a tremendous opportunity to refurbish the space by engaging her students in a hands-on project. During the first semester of the school year, a group of nearly one dozen students got to work. They discarded unusable equipment, tossed out owl pellets and fish skeletons, and threw away fish tanks. Students did some good-old-fashioned scrubbing, painted the cabinets, and designed and built a wooden table for the center of the room. The space is now a functioning laboratory where students are growing herbs, such as basil and oregano. The green room also houses a working aquaponics tank, a system that combines raising fish with cultivating plants in water; the fish provide nutrients and fertilizer to the plants. “As I started teaching this class, I realized that the students would learn more by completing a hands-on project than they would by listening to a lecture and taking notes,” Kay said. “I am proud of the way the students embraced this project and really worked to turn this into a functioning space for future classes.” The room is far from being complete. Kay is working with Computer Assisted Design classes to design a watering system that would allow students to control when and how much plants are fed and watered when they are not at school. She is also collaborating with art and ceramics classes to liven up the space. “I really want this to be a space for innovation and experimentation and I want it to be a space that all students can be proud of,” Kay added. “By working with other departments, students will learn what it means to collaborate with others on a project for the benefit of the district.”