The Legacy Greenhouse Project
The Legacy Greenhouse Project was led and developed by the grade 8 students at Guardian Angels. When embarking on their Systems and Structures unit in Science, the students developed a driving question, “How can we use structures and simple machines to improve systems at Guardian Angels?”. Through this, they recognized that the playground at the school was lacking student engagement. Many students suggested a playground structure, others suggested an outdoor classroom, then, in an attempt to combine both ideas, the students decided to build a Greenhouse. The students immediately recognized that there is an abundance of learning that can take place within a greenhouse, and best of all it would bring the whole school community together. Guardian Angels has a large population of students; therefore, it felt idealistic because a greenhouse could engage all diverse learners and offer hands-on learning in sustainability and food literacy.
The first step was to involve the school principal, Mr. Hawken and pitch the idea. He loved the idea but wanted students to take into consideration the possibilities of vandalism, rodents, pests, student safety and access for the entire school community. With the upcoming STEAM Innovation Showcase hosted by our board, the students used this opportunity to create prototypes using 3D models and designs to receive feedback from experts and other educators across the system. After that, the students pitched their final design choice to Mr. Hawken, the Science/STEAM Consultant, Mr. Kovacs and a Green Industries Secondary Teacher, Mr. Coleiro. In the end, the feedback they provided the students based on design, materials, and location was extremely helpful. The final consideration was the budget, so students researched materials and costs and developed the final design along with a materials list. The final design consisted of three greenhouse boxes. This design and budget were approved by the principal and the facilities manager, so it was time for the students to get started on ordering seeds, and begin the germination process, so they would be ready to transport to the boxes. To learn more about green industries and growing seeds within a greenhouse, the students travelled to Notre Dame high school in Burlington, which had its very own greenhouse. They learned so much and did plenty of research on which plants to grow and how to grow them successfully.
The project is currently at the construction phase of the project, the seeds and plants are growing well and will soon be ready to transport. On May 24th, 2023, the students will be visiting a local secondary school, St. Francis of Xavier, to receive safety training and use their power tools and equipment to build the boxes.
After the boxes are built, the students will plant the plants within the boxes and then explore recipes they could use the herbs and vegetables for (e.g. Bruschetta, Pesto, etc.). At the end of the school year, the plants will then be sold to the local community to raise money for the school.
Reflection & Celebration
The grade 8 students named this project “The Legacy Greenhouse Project” with the hope that when they move on to attend high school, the greenhouse boxes will be a legacy/contribution they leave behind to their previous school community. They hope that it will be left to teach the younger students at Guardian Angels about sustainability, healthy eating and food literacy. The students also hope that the greenhouse boxes will inspire a love for gardening not just within the school but within the local community as well.
We are currently still in the midst of the project, it is not yet completed, but there are plans for an installation celebration, along with giving the students a chance to share what they learned with the younger classes at the school.