School gardens are changing education for Connecticut’s urban youth – WBUR News

by | May 23, 2022 | Education

A Monday in May poured sunshine over the playground and backyard of John S. Martinez Sea and Sky STEM Magnet School, where students recently broke ground on a fresh garden. A team of second graders had decided on the perfect spot for three new garden beds under the guidance of Hollie Brandstatter, an outdoor learning specialist from Common Ground.The goal is to offer a different approach to learning, and playing in the dirt is bringing kids down to earth.Common Ground is a New Haven environmental education center planting outdoor classrooms across the city and as far as Hamden and Wallingford. Their Schoolyards Program has partnered with over 20 New Haven public schools and led the installation of a number of school gardens, most recently at John S. Martinez. Common Ground outdoor learning specialists typically visit partner schools at least one day per week.On this day, Brandstatter led a group of pre-Kindergarten and fourth grade students to cultivate the garden beds. Students worked together to transfer soil — enriched with hearty earthworms — with trowels and buckets from a pile outside the school into the new beds.Schoolyards Program manager Robyn Stewart emphasized the range of skills young kids develop through outdoor learning.“Kids are interacting in a different context,” Stewart said. “There’s more opportunities for both independence, developing independence, but also dev …

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