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    garden. Two years ago, as a precursor to SIPP, stu- dents from the Grade 6–8 Nature Club presented their own passion project idea and received funds to establish the box garden. Now in full bloom, this garden has become a valuable tool, clearly demon- strating the impact and richness produced in out- of-the-classroom learning spaces.
Canning produce, distilling essences from FIS grown herbs, or sharing the sweetness of our own student- produced honey in the cafeteria might soon become a reality.
Feraille Cowan, Grade 6–8 Science Teacher and Nature Club’s advisor, speaks of a grassroots student initia- tive. Pulling out a bucket full of recently-harvested, earth-covered potatoes, she beams with pride for the FIS young gardeners. The garden boxes have ex- panded the teaching of curriculum, she says. Students can actually see the life cycle of the plant; pumpkins harvested today are the second generation of babies
Stroth Center Box Garden provides a bounty of produce and learning
from the Jack-o’-Lanterns carved two years ago for the Grade 6–8 Halloween dance.
Around the garden boxes, students can physically think out the wonders of photosynthesis, and stu- dents collaborate. For a unit on Climate Change, Robin Neal’s Grade 9 Design for Change students created signage and QR codes linked to Grade 8 students’ science videos showcasing information on plants. Students have expanded their in-class learning, ex- ploring different watering systems in the box garden. And the availability of additional funds through SIPPs give way to the exploration of other passions. Canning produce, distilling essences from FIS grown herbs, or sharing the sweetness of our own student-produced honey in the cafeteria might soon become a reality.
The FIS bee and garden box projects promote stu- dent leadership and involvement. With many color- ful, pollinator flowers, the box garden is full of bees. Ms. Cowan and her students have observed four dif- ferent bee varieties and spotted the same species as our own bees. Alexander, a Grade 11 student, has be- come an expert on bee matters. His passion evolved from a “random idea,” and for the past four years, he has been keeping his own beehives. Ms. Cowan af- firms, “We are following his lead.”
Alexander is helping the school with bee mainte- nance but his personal aim is to “initiate a Bee Club” at FIS. Alexander and Mats, Upper School Nature Club leader, are joining efforts to promote the creation of the new club. With an average of 140 students per grade, bee handling is not ideal for in-class, curricu- lum-based learning, but is targeted for individualized, hands-on, small group learning. Alexander says that bees are important at FIS as a “great opportunity for students to learn about beekeeping.” A cross-polli- nation of positive results – interconnectedness, col- laboration, student agency and leadership, and ex- citing, expansive thinking – are alive and thriving at our school.
Indeed, SIPPs provoke big ideas and dreams. Dr. Fochtman envisions a school connected by bright colored pollinator gardens, a school with more bee- hives and more student stewards. Raising the aware- ness of the important link between the bees’ role as pollinators, how they impact the wellbeing of our food supply chain and a hands-on approach to car- ing for the environment, are central to these projects. And in doing so, Dr. Fochtman sees our beautiful cam- pus – an ecologically and naturally rich biome – be- coming a statement of “our responsibility to neutral- ize our environmental footprint.” Let’s walk the talk of passion and innovation at FIS and give roots and wings to our ideas.
Deirdre Harriet-Boettcher FIS Parent
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