+ Sixth-Graders Get a Greenhouse in Connecticut

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Next fall, in Glastonbury, Connecticut, sixth-graders will get a free-standing greenhouse, large enough to hold an entire class.  The Glastonbury Education Foundation is providing the $96,000 needed.

After the 20- by 40-foot greenhouse opens next fall on the south side of the Gideon Welles School, eleven-year-olds will have a living lab where they can explore the plant kingdom, says Fred Myers, science director of the school system.  He will rework the science curriculum to make the best use of the greenhouse.

“Students will be able to do all sorts of experiments with plants, such as the effect of sunlight, the amount of water and temperature have on plants,” he says.  “It’ll afford them a huge opportunity to learn about plants and what kind of physical factors affect plant growth.”

The Glastonbury Education Foundation is a nonprofit group that has paid for other innovative school projects, such as a $165,000 television production studio at Glastonbury High School.  They selected the greenhouse as their project this year from a wish list developed by teachers.

Foundation Chairman Joe Jaconetta says “I think it was extremely timely, with the whole going-green movement and everyone being environmentally conscious.”  In addition, he says, there is the factor of Glastonbury being a farming community.

In addition to life sciences, the greenhouse can be tied to the high-school’s agri-science program and linked through interdisciplinary lessons to language arts, mathematics and social studies, says Myers.  He also sees the greenouse enabling community projects as well — perhaps growing things to be eaten or sold at fundraisers.

The gable-style greenhouse will have a heating and cooling system and a small instructionarea where students can gather.

“Nature is the keyhole for science,” says James Gregorski, school principal.  “For them to be able to go into a living lab and work with nature and see how all factors play a role in development of plants is such a rich extension of the science curriculum.”

sole source: article by Grace E Merritt in the Hartford Courant on 10/30/08.   www.courant.com

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