Elementary students learn science and math in outdoor garden

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Students at a North Charleston school are rolling up their sleeves and getting a hands-on lesson in learning. Malcolm C. Hursey Elementary School is taking a unique approach to teaching math and science with the help of a garden.

Students at the school say they love the garden classroom. They enjoy being outside and learning.

"It's a fun learning environment where you get to plant and try new things" said fourth grader Pat Monteith.

The thing the students enjoy the most is they can learn while getting their hands dirty.

"You can learn things, and at the same time you can learn that you can have fun, and you can do experiments and taste new things" said student Y'nassia Hoskins.

Heather Osterfeld, the garden classroom teacher is helping students focus on two important concepts, math and science.

"They might be growing seeds in a green house and seeds outside and comparing their results. What's the rate of germination, they do scientific observations, and we do graphing. We measure how deep to plant seeds," Osterfeld said.

Last year's Palmetto Assessment of State Standards test showed Hursey Elementary didn't meet science standards, in fact, the numbers were by far the weakest in the academic area. This program is focused on closing that gap.

"I work very closely with the teachers on the units that they're teaching. We work collaboratively to make the kids master the concepts and I hear wonderful things from the teachers about the progress that the kids are making," Osterfeld said.

Osterfeld started the class by going out and collecting the funds from sponsors to get the class up and running. She also says she's seen big improvements with her students in both math and science.

"When we do observations in class we take it from outside in the garden, and then we go in the class and we make graphs," Hoskins said.

The students are responsible for planning, planting, harvesting and preparation of the food throughout the school year. At the end of the assignment they get to take the tasty fruits and vegetables home to enjoy.

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