Teachers all around the world and throughout history have looked for unique ways to teach their students and keep them engaged and interested in their subject matter. One elementary school teacher in Anson, Maine has taken it upon herself to implement an unconventional method by using gardening to teach math to her students.
Back in 2011, Garret Schenck Elementary School teacher Cindy Flanagin began raising money to support a gardening program she was starting at the school. The program teaches students how to organically grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables as well as how to cook and prepare healthy meals with them.
The program uses an aquaponic system that Flanagin made herself to teach her kids how to grow crops by using water and air as well as a fish-based fertilizer. By using the system, Flanagin has been able to teach a variety of mathematical and scientific concepts to her students as well as certain life skills like concentration and follow through.
Flanigan says that her goal as an educator is to “prepare young people for the future” by incorporating a variety of hands-on activities that teach both basic as well as advanced science and math concepts.
The students use the aquaponic system to apply those concepts to their in-school grow projects. So far students have been able to produce several different fruit and vegetable crops, one of which has been an ongoing crop of bib lettuce that the school uses for its cafeteria salad bar during the winter months.
Additionally, Flanagin’s students will be organizing and hosting a dinner for fellow students and their families featuring foods prepared from their grow projects. The dinner will also serve as an opportunity for the students to share with their classmates and their families some of the science and math concepts they’ve been learning.