BY AMANDA MOSES
Garden Educator, Jacqui Royt-man, kicked off last weeks’ virtual garden lesson with a signature Cinco de Mayo staple, avocado. This green fruit (often misidentified as a vegetable) is a key ingredient in guacamole and as a garnish in traditional Mexican cuisine.
Roytman provides virtual gardening lessons during her Zoom sessions entitled “Science is Real,” where students conduct experiments with plants, explore the ingredients in food preparation, share recipes, and try different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities. During the sessions Roytman asked attendees to create a journal (by folding sheets of paper and stapling or tying them together) or to use a blank notebook as their logbook. She urges all participants to document each activity and/or experiment so they can review their findings, and if the results of the experiment are not successful, they can review the steps and repeat the process for a better outcome.
As part of the Cinco de Mayo lesson, Roytman seized the opportunity to encourage the class to start an edible indoor garden. She demonstrated how to cut an avocado in half (with adult super-vision) and remove the pit. After cleaning it thoroughly and making sure it was dry, she held up the pit and asked the class, “What does the shape of the avocado seed remind you of?”
One child responded, it look like an egg!” Roytman smiled and agreed that the avocado pit was an oval shape similar to that of an egg. Keeping in mind how an egg is shaped, Roytman instructed the children to insert four toothpicks or wooden skewers into the avocado pit’s top pointed half. In doing so, the wooden skewers form an “X’ with the pit at the center. The next step is to fill a jar or cup with water, making sure that the oval point of the egg-shaped pit is dry at the top, and the rounder bottom part is submerged in water.
Roytman explained the importance of keeping the seed away from direct sunlight, but to also keep it in a warm spot and maintain the water level (half of the pit should be submerged). In about six weeks, she told them the roots and stem will begin to grow. Once the roots are thick and the stem has leaves, she encouraged the participants to transplant it into a pot of soil. Roytman stressed that this plant will not grow fruit because there needs to be two avocado plants to cross pollinate.
Roytman showed the virtual class how a plant grows and compared photosynthesis to how our bodies transfers blood from one area to another. She concluded the lesson with a short science video featuring the band, They Might be Giants’ song, “The Bloodmobile.”
Screenshots by Amanda Moses and Pamela Stern