Observing the Signs of Spring

BY AMANDA MOSES

Spring is slowly approaching! At least that is what the students at PS 346 are reporting to Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman during their class observation of the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). Roytman began her lesson by handing the class clipboards and pencils and asked them to be citizen scientists, which are average people making assessments about their environment.

Many of the children animatedly clamored around the garden beds as they noted that tulip stems were emerging from the ground. This elation came with the discovery that spring is approaching thanks to the Journey North’s Tulip test, which began in the fall when the students planted Red Emperor tulips to help monitor seasonal changes. One of the crucial parts of this project is making observations and documenting data, and in doing so the students help scientists monitor the climate, geography, and the arrival of spring. “I can’t wait to see the tulips when they blossom,” said third grader, Daina Ajakaye.

To help the students with their research, Roytman placed signs with prompts on it to encourage them to use all of their senses. In one garden bed, the children were asked to record what the alfalfa cover crops felt like (Was it soft or prickly like the branches of a Roseberry bush?), the smell of the soil, the sounds of birds chirping, and the sight of small buds on the plants.

The third graders investigated every corner of the garden with smiles on their faces and clipboards on hand while making their observations. “My favorite part of today was seeing the red thorns on the Roseberry bush! It doesn’t have roses, but berries,” said Nina Baker.

Photos by Amanda Moses