Courtyard classroom provides hands-on learning

Freedom Area School District  |  Posted on

Jeanine Ging’s middle school students are gaining hands-on experience in pollinator protection, gardening, hydroponics, aquaponics, water quality and more through her converted courtyard classroom eco-education program. For about two years, Ging has been developing the classroom, an enclosed outdoor learning space between the middle and elementary schools that includes two certified Monarch way-stations, a pumpkin patch, an outdoor classroom setting, a chicken coop and a pond. A greenhouse is also underway.

According to the Times Online, Ging was recognized as a Harmony Hero as a part of EarthKind’s 2021 Year of the Monarch national initiative. As part of the designation, she will receive in-service training from an entomologist about integrated pest management practices for her school. She’ll also be considered for a grand prize paid trip to Mexico in March 2022 to visit the Kingdom of Monarchs habitat, where millions of butterflies migrate each year.

As part of the program Ging implements in the courtyard, students raise and capture Monarch butterflies to contribute data to a citizen science program, the article says. They have also raised chickens and ducks and studied fish growth and water quality in the pond as well as launched pumpkins using trebuchets to practice STEM skills. The projects coincide with educational units, further reinforcing students’ learning through active participation.