At the center of the Alexander D. Goode Elementary School in York, a greenhouse has been built where York College education students will work hands-on with teachers. Students in Assistant Professor of Education Nicole Hesson’s elementary school science class will work with teachers to develop lesson plans for using the greenhouse year-round beginning in the fall of 2019.
Currently, the school uses a garden that is cultivated by volunteers from Temple Beth Israel in York Township, but the greenhouse will keep weather from canceling lessons. “The garden can only do so much because of the weather,” Hesson says. “Once the greenhouse is operational, they can teach lessons inside all year.”
Education students are not the only ones to work on this project. The idea first began with the College’s Engineering Department back in 2016. The design and construction of the project was handled by engineering students in their capstone course to serve as a community project.
Science requires hands-on experiments and young students are encouraged to explore on their own. “Over the years, you did labs where everyone was supposed to get the same result, but that’s not how real scientists get results,” says Hesson. “You’re not increasing curiosity with that. But, if you give kids materials and ask them to achieve a goal, that’s where they learn those skills.”
Hesson plans to leave the greenhouse project up to the students to experiment. “It doesn’t matter what the kids do, even if they do something crazy like watering a plant with apple juice,” she says. “They’re going to get a result and we want them to interpret that result and think critically about what they’re seeing.”