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Fifth graders install Project Learning Garden at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy

The new Learning Garden planters at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy

Fifth graders at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy installed a Project Learning Garden on Tuesday thanks to a grant from Giant Eagle, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dole Packaged Foods and the Captain Planet Foundation.

Students from the Gifted program, led by Mrs. Cathie Pearson, helped prepare the space and participated throughout the day. The fifth graders worked in shifts to construct the garden. The first group of fifth graders focused on building the five planters. The second group came in and opened up all of the top soil bags, making sure to spread the soil evenly throughout the planter. The third group then planted a variety of vegetables like basil, rosemary, radishes and more that they will take care of and maintain.

The Project Learning Garden program provides a context for multidisciplinary learning related to this groundbreaking initiative, ranging from nutrition and science, to social studies, math, and language arts. Students learn about food origins; engage in authentic field investigations; manipulate the environment to understand math in real-life applications; and, write across academic disciplines. 

Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy principal Dr. Jean Marie Livingston had the following message for everyone who helped make this project happen.

"Thank you for joining us today for the garden installation.  As educators, we sometimes get caught up in only focusing on teaching our children reading and math.  We don’t always take the time to show children the importance and necessity of focusing on our community and the earth.  

This garden not only focuses on reading and math, but also cooperation, team work, problem solving and taking steps to better our community.  Taking care of our community is a lesson we all need and I’m thankful we are taking the time to do that today. This is the first day of many we will be able to focus on making our community a better place. 

 I want to thank a few people for making today possible.  First, to Giant Eagle, Captain Planet and Dole for making the funding possible and promoting the idea of gardens in schools.  Thank you to Mr. Harris and the school board for allowing school property to be dedicated to the garden space.  Thank you to Mr. Willson and Ms. Nicklow for securing the grant. I’d also like to thank Mr. Tim Joyce, from Senator Brewster’s office, for attending our event today.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to Mrs. Pearson for spearheading the garden initiative and her dedication to making our community a better place.  Thank you to Ms. Chambers, one of our parents, who has volunteered her time over the last few weeks to help get the area prepared for the installation.  Thank you to the 5th grade teachers for rearranging their schedule and participating in today’s event and to our 5th grade students who did the work and were integral in making today happen."  

Fifth grade students open bags of top soil to build a learning garden at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM AcademyFifth grade students open bags of top soil to build a learning garden at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM AcademyA fifth grader teases apart a plant to build a learning garden at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM AcademyFifth grade students prepare the soil in a planter at the new learning garden at Turtle Creek Elementary STEAM Academy

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