Garden Explorations is supported by a grant to the South Carolina Botanical Garden, Clemson University from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through their Precollege Science Education Initiative program. The program has also received
Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies are at the cutting edge of an emerging agricultural revolution called site-specific management. Anticipated benefits are both economic and environmental because in this system, herbicides, fertilizers and other inputs are placed only where needed in the precise amounts required. The opportunities for site-specific management of crops, soils, and pests are innumerable. However, most students of agriculture and land resource sciences have little, if any, experience with the GPS and GIS technologies that provide these new opportunities. Beginning in 1995, efforts were undertaken to integrate GPS/GIS technology into the College of Agriculture curriculum. The process began with GPS/GIS training workshops for local and regional faculty. Key faculty modified curriculum within several departmental options and produced instructional modules for 12 different agriculture science courses. Experiential learning opportunities were developed and in some classes, farmer practitioners of site-specific management participated with students in identifying management problems and solutions. Instructional modules and active learning exercises were formally evaluated as to their effects on enhanced student decisionmaking skills and competency in GPS/GIS applications. Recently the new course LRES 357 “GPS/GIS Applications” was added to the curriculum and work is underway to place this course on-line.
Carly Gillett, Kathryn Fontenot, Edward Bush, Maud Walsh, and Charles Johnson
potential future farmers. Informative kindergarten to 12th-grade science education can play an important role in this mission. Several school garden studies indicate incorporating gardens into alternative curricula improved scores in specific areas such as
Amy E. Dirks and Kathryn Orvis
Studies have shown gardening to have the potential to influence students in several positive ways. The hands-on and informal learning that occurs in these outdoor areas can be incorporated into all areas of the curriculum, fostering environmental awareness and increased interest in science. Junior Master Gardener (JMG) was chosen to be evaluated in 14 Indiana third grade classrooms as little formal classroom usage data exists for the program. It was hypothesized that the use of the program could help improve agriculture awareness and knowledge in youth. Quantitative and qualitative instruments and observations were utilized in a effort to evaluate knowledge gain and change of attitude towards the topics covered by the JMG curriculum; science, horticulture, and the environment. Student pre- and posttest results indicated overall significant gains in knowledge and attitudes. Performance was not attributed to student age, gender, race, or location of the school, although those schools with a garden achieved more positive gains in attitude and specific performance varied according to classroom. Qualitative data also indicated that the students enjoyed the program, shared what they learned with others, and wanted to participate in more JMG and gardening type activities. Teachers indicated that they were satisfied with the program in their classrooms and planned to reuse their JMG materials for future classes.
Leanna L. Smith and Carl E. Motsenbocker
The first four chapters of a hands-on gardening curriculum (Junior Master Gardener Handbook Level One) were introduced into three East Baton Rouge Parish (Louisiana) elementary schools in the fall semester of 2002 as an informal education program conducted by East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardener volunteers and Louisiana State University students. The curriculum took place once per week for 2 hours during regular school hours. Science achievement tests, developed at Texas A&M University specifically for the Junior Master Gardener program, were given before and after the students participated in the gardening activities to determine whether or not the activities helped improve achievement scores. Science achievement was significantly different (P ≤ 0.0167) between the experimental classes' pretest and posttest scores, while no significant difference was found between the pretest and posttest scores of the control classes. No significant difference was found between the experimental and control classes due to treatment. Several variables may have affected the outcome of the study, but the results show once weekly use of gardening activities and hands-on classroom activities help improve science achievement test scores.
A.J. Lewis and J.M. Affolter
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia serves as an important academic resource for the University of Georgia by supporting interdisciplinary learning experiences in fields including botany, horticulture, environmental design, ecology, anthropology, geography, instructional technology, science education, entomology, forestry, and art. Field trips, independent study, internships, work-study and other botanical garden experiences strengthen and support the university's teaching, research and public service/outreach missions.
Kathleen C. Ruppert and Gregory L. Davis
In his State of the Union Address (1990), President Bush proposed planting a billion trees annually for the next 10 years. Organizations such as Global ReLeaf are planning to plant 400 to 600 million trees by the year 2000. A review of science education periodicals and general information available on tree planting and care reveal little directed to children. Science education tends to focus on the nature, not the handling of trees, and where planting ideas are suggested, they tend to be about growing trees from seed. To determine the level of landscape tree care knowledge of 4th–6th graders, a questionnaire addressing how trees grow, site and tree selection, proper planting, and other areas was administered by 4-H agents and Univ. of Florida students throughout the state during five camps, involving 211 children during the summer of 1995. The questionnaire was revised with additional topics such as irrigation and mulching added and administered during three 4-H camps involving 77 4th–6th graders. Answers to these questionnaires were used to develop materials targeted for this age group and their teachers.
Enabling citizens to have meaningful participation in public discussions of issues interfacing science/technology and society (STS) has long been a goal of science education. Involving students in investigating issues may be the most effective way of insuring continued involvement as adults. Global, national, and local horticultural issues can provide concepts for learning relevant science concepts, process skills, and other outcomes. Selecting and designing investigations of horticulture issues include input from both students and teacher. Questions that get at scientific concepts, technological implications, and societal concerns related to the issue give direction and scope to the study. The questions and responses can be student initiated with teacher guidance. Students gain experience in examining and discussing societal issues, recognizing interdependence of STS, and learning relevant science as well. As a result, students perceive horticulture as having relevance to their concerns rather than as an isolated discipline,
Aino-Maija Evers, Leena Lindén, and Erja Rappe
Approaches using human issues in horticulture (HIH) offer new possibilities to develop nearby nature in cities, especially during a period of rapid urbanization in Finland. New initiatives have been developed in school gardening, environmental education, gardening in training programs for disabled people, therapeutic environments in hospitals and institutions, and in the University of Helsinki horticultural education and research programs. At the University of Helsinki, two contact teaching courses and national seminars were organized in 1996 and 1998. Initial studies in the HIH approach have three main themes: 1) gardening as a tool for better quality of life in homes for the elderly, 2) ecology, native plants and extensive maintenance in parks, and 3) the use of horticulture in environment and science education at the lower level of the comprehensive school.
Carl Motsenbocker and Leanna Smith
A garden-based science curriculum (Junior Master Gardener) was introduced into public elementary schools as an informal education program conducted by Master Gardener volunteers and service-learning university students. The program was held once a week for 2 hours during regular school hours with fifth grade classes. The service-learning students were enrolled in a senior level horticultural science education class. Students were surveyed pre- and post-program with the Science Teacher Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI-B, preservice), a background survey instrument, and weekly journals. There were significant differences in the students' perceived teaching efficacy pre- and post-program. Most of the student's STEBI scores either remained the same or increased over the semester. Overall, the service-learning college students had very positive responses to their experiences as teachers and mentors in public elementary schools. In addition, the students were able to use their horticultural skills and knowledge and they also gained an appreciation for the teaching profession.