Science is Real: A Virtual Garden Program

BY AMANDA MOSES

The sun is shining, and the warmer days are filled with the sweet smell of blossoming flowers. These are sure signs that summer is just around the corner.

Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman is offering virtual garden-ing programs to students in the Spring Creek Towers After School Program through Zoom entitled, “Science is Real.” Students conduct experiments with plants, explore the ingredients in food preparation, share recipes, and try different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities.

The children only need to bring their imagination, a homemade journal to document each activity and/or experiment, and materials for their projects (many of which can be found in their homes, such as newspapers or fruits/vegetables).

Since classes cannot be held at the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s Urban Garden Classroom, Roytman has been teaching the children how to create miniature gardens at home.

“Usually during this time of the year, I work with the schools
and seniors, in our garden, to plant, care for and harvest a wide
variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Because we are not able
to be in the garden at this time, we are offering two classes a week designed for our kids and families to bring spring time and gardening indoors: Science is Real in the Garden and Science is Real Class,” Roytman said.

Science is Real in the Garden classes are held on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm and offer activities on growing plants from kitchen scraps (which can be leftover vegetable stalks, like the tops of carrots or garlic cloves). Sometimes there might be a few items you might have to pick up with your groceries like potting soil or seeds.

On Thursdays, Roytman focuses on science related topics from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. “Each week we send out a material list to students for the activity of the day,” Roytman said. Together these budding scientists learn about the scientific method, and how to create projects like a volcano using baking soda, food coloring, dish detergent, vinegar, and plastic cups.

Last week, the children learned how to make a miniature garden from kitchen scraps using plastic containers or jars, vegetables, and fruits (such as oranges, lemons, limes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger), water, a dish, paper, and markers.

With the help of their parents, Roytman demonstrated how to cut vegetables, like carrots, so that the roots may be grown in water. She also explained how to remove lemon seeds and prepare them for germination (when a seed sprouts roots).

Once all of their vegetable and fruit scraps have started to grow roots, they can be transplanted into a pot. Roytman followed up lesson with a project on creating biodegradable pots from newspapers. Simply take a glass cup, wrap the newspaper against it, and then remove the glass. This forms a mold of the cup, creating a small paper pot. The next step is to fill the pot with potting soil and place your plant in the soil.

“When you have a plant that has a lot of roots, it does not like those roots to be disturbed, so carefully make a small hole in the soil with your finger, and then gently insert the plant,” Roytman said.

At the end of the lesson, one child exclaimed that their favorite part was: “I liked it when we put the soil in the newspaper and how to get a lemon ready to plant.”

Screenshots and photos by Amanda Moses, Jacqui Roytman, and Pamela Stern