Wellington USD 353 students have been challenged to find "real-life" learning opportunities and the 6th grade students did not have to go far to find one.
Behind the Wellington Middle School, stands a broken-down greenhouse with holes in the roof, left unused. Previous 6th grade have worked to start a Pollinator Habitat across the creek from the school but lack of good starter plants have been a problem. So, our real life learning project became repairing or replacing the greenhouse and purchasing the necessary supplies to bring it back to life. When the green house is operational, it can begin to produce the necessary plants for the pollinator site.
The objectives of this project has been to provide learning experiences for the students involved. Enhanced knowledge of plant development and of the pollinator's critical role in the reproduction of future plants in the natural environment. In other words, a better understanding of the interaction between different communities in an grassland ecosystem.
The Greenhouse Pollinator Project started with several brainstorming sessions looking for a project the students felt passionate about and something that could make a difference. Numerous ideas were discussed and finally the group decided to look at something that could work right here at WMS. At the time, they were studying plants and learning about pollinators that were native to Kansas, becoming endangered because of habitat loss. It was mentioned we had two pollinator sites being developed but it would take several years for the plants to mature enough to make a difference. Also, that the Middle School had a greenhouse. We went to talk to a local expert, Mrs. Chase, the FFA teacher at the high school to learn about greenhouses and ask questions. Then, the class set to create a presentation for Mr. Ybarra's permission to proceed with the project. The students decided the old greenhouse could not be salvaged, thus instead, pursue building a new greenhouse with a cement slab to allow handicapped students access to the greenhouse. The students made presentations to Dr. Whitener and the School Board. The students have done an amazing job.
With approval, the students started working on grants and fundraising to secure the funds to do their project. A GoFundMe account was set up and the students were able to raise $300 through it. Then, student teams started working on writing a grant. They submitted their first to the USD 353 Foundation Grant for supplies for the project. They were awarded $500. The students created shopping lists for Wal-mart of supplies needed for Pollinator Day and for the Greenhouse once completed. They took a field trip in shopping teams to buy the supples.
Some students began planning for Pollinator Day while others continued on writing and preparing to submit a grant for the construction of a new Greenhouse for WMS. The school year ended and students went home for the summer before we heard word that the Kansas Star Casino would grant half of the needed funds to complete the project. USD 353 stepped in to help with the other half to see these students' vision come to fruition. Now, that the slab has been poured the greenhouse will be ordered and constructed upon arrival. Tthis is just the beginning of the vision these students have started. Of course the original goal of growing plants for the Pollinator Site was a starting point, there is so much more that the Greenhouse Pollinator Project will give to these students as well as to all future students.
On Thursday, after the cement was poured, the students placed their handprints in the wet cement for posterity. The pictures below this first major event associated with the actual construction process. Stay tuned for more - this is real-life learning.
Students involved with this wonderful project include Ella Amrein, Whitney Zeka, Mallory Soto, Summer May, Karizma Putter-Zavala, Maddox Burns, Talan Cantrell, Katelyn Haines, Camryn Bannister, Caleb Hochevar, Alec Gonzalez, Savannah Saunders, Isabelle Cullens, Jade Brown, Derrick Duryee, Gavin Witham, Jessie Calhoun, and Andrew Helpingstine.