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Georgia Southern’s Botanic Garden offers innovative science education to kindergarten through fifth grade students

Students engaging in innovative movement oriented activities

Students engaging in innovative movement oriented activities

Georgia Southern’s Botanic Garden has created an innovative movement oriented project to offer new and improved science education to kindergarten through fifth grade future Eagles in the region. The project involves training teachers to engage kids in science processes and content.

Adventures in Science, Teaching, Exploration and Resourceful Stewardship (ASTERS) is a successful teacher training program conducted by the Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern and the Department of Biology in cooperation with school districts in the area. Schools in Bulloch County and Claxton Elementary School in Evans County are key partners in the project, but districts in eight counties throughout the rural region participate.

Education Coordinator of the Botanic Garden, Kathy Tucker sharing movement oriented learning activities

Education Coordinator of the Botanic Garden, Kathy Tucker sharing movement oriented learning activities

Education Coordinator of the Botanic Garden, Kathy Tucker, teamed up with Lissa Leege, Ph.D., a Georgia Southern Biology department botanist and Director for the Center of Sustainability to share movement oriented learning activities addressing grade-specific content areas determined by Georgia Performance Standards and Common Core. Teachers are trained for three days on how to conduct grade-specific curriculum in the classroom.  Then teachers bring their classes to the Garden. Over the past three years, nearly 50 teachers and thousands of kids have participated.

“The garden’s mission is to celebrate the plants and animals of the area and to encourage environmentally responsible behavior, and ASTERS meets those goals in ways that endure,” said Botanic Garden Director Carolyn Altman. “I’ve often heard a student say that the trip to the Garden was the best field trip they’d ever been on. That is good for Georgia Southern as well. Those young learners are the future of our region and truly, the planet, so when they are older and looking for a college, they will remember Georgia Southern.”

Students and teachers learn through purposeful movement activities such as a pollination relay race, building a flower using students as specific parts, and other physical games, dances and songs developed through this project. The application of concepts taught in the classroom to the Garden’s living environments deepen student learning. Teachers also learn by observing ASTERS staff work with their children.

“The teachers feel that the trainings and trips are extremely helpful and that what we share gets used in the classroom,” said Altman. “Evaluation helps us make changes every year and keep the program dynamic.”

“The kids are having so much fun they don’t even realize they’re learning, and they’re learning in ways that help them understand concepts deeply and remember them,” said Tucker.

Altman attributes the success of the program to a large number of great activities and curriculum developed by Tucker.

“(Tucker) has done an outstanding job of meeting state standards while making learning and teaching fun,” Altman said.

The garden received a $110,000 grant in 2015 which will end Sept. 30. The Garden says that they are looking for more ways to continue to fund the project.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

 

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