Q & A with CST Learning Project Finalist: Nurturing Nature, Growing Minds

Connecting children with nature

Q &  with Carmen Forsberg, Nurturing Nature, Growing Minds

What is your idea and how will it help children learn?

Nurturing Nature, Growing Minds is an outdoor, experiential learning project that allows children to design and build a cost effective, sustainable gardening system.  Our proposed project includes a greenhouse for cultivating crops, solar panels to produce energy so that it can be used year round, water catchers, and a mason bee hive.  We also intend to build an amphitheatre to allow us to take our learning outside, beyond the school walls, in the tradition of ancient cultures and innovative modern “outdoor classrooms.”

This process and project would be recorded by the students and uploaded onto a YouTube channel they’d create to document their experience and show other students how to replicate it.

The project provides the opportunity for students to learn by doing: observing, recording information and applying discoveries to solving problems and identifying and addressing challenges.

This project will be a springboard for learning about organic farming, life cycles, the challenges facing the bee populations world-wide, national and international food distribution, water conservation and issues of world hunger.

How did your idea start? /What was the inspiration for your idea?

We believe contact with nature from a young age is extremely important.  Recent research in creativity indicates that a key ingredient in the development of creative adults is the opportunity to observe nature and experience its mystery as a young child. Focussing on nature is calming, and there’s a direct reward in watching something you care for grow. We also believe that all children need the opportunity to plant a seed, cultivate its growth and harvest its crops. Students will find that there are various challenges (e.g. pests, or the unbalanced ph of soil) but discover that there are sustainable ways to overcome them.

As educators we seek opportunities for learning-in-place, and believe this project can provide an ideal context for situational learning.

Why do you think your idea is important/what problem does it solve that exists in education?

The new British Columbia curriculum emphasizes the development of independence, collaboration, creativity, ethical problem-solving and critical thinking. 

Our project is interactive and teaches children to be collaborative team members. It allows children to practise responsibility, develop autonomy, learn persistence and understand the importance of accountability. For example, students will need to be aware of the needs of the plant.  Once a crop is planted, it must be responsibly nurtured in order for it to thrive:  watered, weeded and harvested on its own timeline.  To ensure a sustainable future for our planet, our children must understand their personal roles in its care. This understanding can be enhanced as students share their experiences directly with others through social media.

Learn more about Nurturing Nature, Growing Minds.