Why were fifth graders in Southern California encouraged to stand on their desks? Because they were testing whether strawberries, carefully packaged in shoeboxes and other recycled materials, would survive the strawberry drop test. Meanwhile, other students performed the squish test, placing heavy books on strawberry containers they had engineered themselves. It's all part of a lesson on how food is transported from field to table. As one teacher aptly summed it up, "It was chaos, but they loved it. Kids were coming over to me and saying thank you."
This snapshot from the field comes from one of the 17 classroom teachers and garden educators who piloted the Center for Ecoliteracy's Abundant California lessons with 1,130 students in the fall of 2018. We are humbled by the tremendous work of these educators to teach students where their food comes from and how it reaches the table and their capacity to adapt the lessons to their individual students and teaching environments.
Getting kids to like strawberries might not be a hard sell, but asparagus? One teacher was delighted to discover that all but one of her nearly 30 fifth graders liked asparagus when they helped prepare taste tests and added their favorite seasonings. These students were designing asparagus ads for their kindergarten buddies and were eager to see whether their friends would like asparagus as much as they did. The students were so excited that their teacher received emails from parents saying, "How did you cook the asparagus? How did you season it? Because they came home and told me they liked asparagus."
At the conclusion of the pilot, the Center for Ecolitearcy convened the pilot educators in focus groups in Northern and Southern California. The focus groups brought the Abundant California lessons to life and taught us so much about how these resources are utilized and received in the field. We have made refinements to the lessons based on this invaluable educator feedback and look forward to incorporating pilot teachers and education advisors in future lesson development.
Please explore and share the free Abundant California lessons with classroom teachers and garden educators.