S. MPLS– This Spring, Metro Blooms has been submersed in the world of Environmental Education. To develop the Blooming Schoolyards program, we teamed up with Minneapolis Public Schools and STEM leaders with a busy schedule of curriculum planning and raingarden installations. Lessons were planned to coincide with MN vocab and science standards, STEM kit standards, and the needs of specific teachers and classes.
We started as early as January to introduce watersheds, stormwater, and urban runoff to 4th and 5th graders at Dowling, Northrup, and Kenwood Schools. Activities included the use of props to build a “proper” watershed and walking around the schoolyard to note schoolyard land forms and design.
Once the snow melted and the early Spring flowers bloomed, we brought the lessons outside to experience soil and water up close in person. Having established the big picture of the watershed as many functioning parts in January, we led the students through the water cycle from the rain to the runoff to soil infiltration. Along the way, we asked questions pertaining to environmental engineering and water quality. Our final consensus would allow students to see for themselves what raingardens are, what they do, and why they’re important for water quality.
As we built raingardens at two of the participating schools, students had the chance to experience the raingardens hands-on. The lessons themselves incorporated the garden as the construction progressed, but the real hit was getting to plant the garden! Games were also interspersed with the activities, taking the themes of runoff and infiltration into an interactive, fun simulation.