Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s Virtual Urban Garden Classroom

By Amanda Moses

Although schools have been closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), students of Spring Creek Towers are still able to participate in classes through virtual learning with Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) Educator Jacqueline Roytman. Roytman is able to reach out to children within the Spring Creek After School Program through Zoom (an application that allows video, Audio, and screen sharing) since everyone is practicing social distancing.

Last week, marked the launch of the virtual classrooms, and the UGC was also a part of this venture.  Prior to the virtual lesson, parents are emailed a link to the Zoom meeting and given a list of materials needed for each project.

On March 26th, students and their parents from the Spring Creek After School Program launched their Zoom application, through which they were able to see their friends, Group Leaders, Assistant Group Leaders, and teachers. The platform allows for multiple video call boxes, showing everyone present in the Zoom meeting, which gives the feeling of being in a classroom.  The children were ecstatic to see their friends through this application and let out a resounded gasp and giggles as they greeted each other and exclaimed “Hi, Ms. Jacqui!” With the restrictions of social distancing in place, this allowed the children to once again practice social skills in addition to learning.  

“In the coming days and weeks, I look forward to sharing garden-based lessons and activities in science, nature, and art in a brand-new virtual garden. There is no substitute for the kind of meaningful face to face connections that happens when we are all outside in the garden but I’m hoping that these interesting, fun, and sometimes delicious hands-on activities can become a resource for learning at home, staying healthy and connected to one another,” Roytman said.

After introducing herself, she began her lesson by screensharing a colorful music video entitled, “Science is Real,” by They Might Be Giants. Once the students were geared up, Roytman told the class that they will be learning about the life cycle of a plant. “It’s a simple and inexpensive activity,” Roytman said.

The parents were asked to equip the students with a clear plastic cup (or cut a water bottle in half), two dry beans scissors, tape, a pencil, a ruler, a toothpick, paper towels, construction paper, and water.  The children measured two inches of construction paper, which they taped into a ring shape and inserted it into the plastic cup. The next step was to shred a paper towel and insert it into the cup so that it’s slightly overflowing with paper.  The final steps required the students to place the bean seed inside of the plastic cup but in front of the construction paper, one on each side of the cup. Once the cup is fully positioned, the last part required the children to saturate the paper towel with water and then place it in a sunny area in their apartment.

“This allows our little gardeners to watch the seeds sprout and introduce them to the life cycle of plants,” Roytman said. She also asked the class to create a journal and document their observations.