Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Serving Up Education and Inspiration

Earlier this spring the 1st grade students planted two varieties of leaf lettuce. The students were excited to partake in the seed planting and very interested in helping grow some tasty vegetables at the school. Thanks to the wonderful help of our volunteers the students learned all about vegetables can be grown from seeds.The lettuce was given ample light, water, and time to grow in the grow cart at the elementary school. This allowed the students to view their lettuce as it was growing.They then spent some time in the classroom observing the lettuce as it grew and examined how the plants roots helped the plant grow. The lettuce continued to grow through out the spring at the elementary school and was ready for harvest. The harvested lettuce was gathered and prepared and served to the 1st grade students during their lunch period. The students were excited for the opportunity to try the lettuce they had help grow. Many of the students commented on how much they enjoyed eating their lettuce and how good it tasted.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Be Green Week

Our trees are one of our greatest natural resource and saving our environment is a job for all no matter the size. This was the lesson for students from Spooner Elementary School who learned all about our enviroment during "Be Green Week". The week was held to celebrate two special national days of recognition, Earth Day and Arbor Day. The students started the week learning all about the founding of Earth Day. The students were also involved in a special presentation about the great edible delights we can gather from our trees, maple syrup. They spent the week learning all about the importance of preserving and taking care of our precious planet. The week was capped off on Friday April 27, Arbor Day, through a series of special events. It included a tree planting at the school and another near the railroad museum. Each grade participated in a series of related activities focusing on Green topics. The celebration also focused on the Arbor Day proclomation made by the mayor, Gary Cluskey and a series of tree inspired talks. Thank you to the Spooner Advocate who created a video summary of the days events.

A Treat From Our Trees

The students from Spooner Area School District participated in special Fruit and Veggie of the presentation. On Monday April 23 the students learned all about the process of making maple syrup. The event was a huge success thanks to the incredible help from an outstanding volunteer and local maple syrup maker, Beth Emerson. Mrs. Emerson did a wonderful job teaching the students how they tapped the trees to gather the sap from their sugar maple trees at Emerson's Maple Hill Sugar Bush. She explained how Canada leads the United States in production of maple syrup and the importance of the maple tree to Canadians, putting a symbol of the maple leaf on their flag. She further described the importance of maple syrup production in Wisconsin and how our usually cool spring nights help create unique conditions for tapping trees. The students were excited to take part in an excerise where Mrs. Emerson demonstrated how maple sap was collected and carried by hand from the tree to a cooking station. She then showed the students through pictures the process used to cook the water from the sap and concentrate the sugars into maple syrup. Mrs. Emerson finished the lesson by explaining the nutrition that exists in real maple syrup versus maple flavored corn syrup. The students were then treated to a special snack of maple syrup granola. This gave the students the oppurtunity to taste the delicious maple syrup in a healthy manor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The 5th grade students at Spooner Middle School enjoyed a hands on lesson all about worms. The students will be raising red wiggler worms in the classroom over the following spring. During that time they will be collecting food waste from the lunch room to feed the worms. As the ground thaws and the garden is ready to plant the students will brew up some worm tea to feed the plants. Once the fertilizer is created it will be applied to the graden, helping us grow even more plentiful vegetables this summer.

The students had a fun time exploring the role that worms play in decomposing our waste. They built small worm habitats, adding soil, bedding, and food. The small habitats created a wonderful environment for the students to learn further about worms by touching and feeling them. Some students went so far as to give their worm a name...

Friday, February 3, 2012

First Planting of the Year

On Wednesday, February 1, the 1st grade student from Spooner Elementary began planting lettuce. Thanks to the assistance of our wonderful Master Gardener Volunteers the students learned how to plant seeds. The students got a chance to feel the soil and to observe the process of planting. They saw how seeds, soil, and materials can be purchased to plant at home. They also learned how deep to plant the seeds, when they need to be planted, and how many days it takes for the plants to mature.

The students planted two different varieties of lettuce, both green and red lettuce. The seeds were planted in flats placed in the grow cart at the elementary school, this will allow the students the ability to continually view the plants as they grow. It will take approximately 35-40 days for the lettuce to fully mature. This is a little shorter than if it were planted outside, since we can optimize the growing conditions indoors. Once the lettuce has fully matured the students will harvest the lettuce to make a salad, which they can all share. This way the students play a significant role in the planting, growing, and harvesting of the leafy vegetables.

Leafy vegetables are important because they have the highest amount of nutrition per calorie of any vegetable. They are an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, as the lettuce leafs are a storehouse for the plants photochemicals. Leafy greens are also a rich source of vitamin K, which plays an important role in bone health. This is why it has been suggested from many health groups to have a salad of leafy vegetables with each meal.