Project-Based Learning

As most Ohioans have cleaned up their vegetable gardens and hung up gardening tools for the year, students at the Horizon Science Academy Dayton Downtown have been focused on the next growing season. After talking with BCHF School Improvement Specialist Mindy Farry, Horizon staff developed a creative project-based learning plan to engage students and support the local community. Science teacher Jason Ison, an outdoor enthusiast, was eager to lead the project aimed at providing opportunities for the school’s urban youth to engage in outdoor activities. With a $1,000 grant from Concept Schools – and access to an empty lot across the street owned by the school – Ison began development of an evolving projectbased plan at the beginning of this school year. The project engages students of all ages in building a greenhouse, and planting and nurturing a vegetable garden in the spring. With a clear vision in mind, Ison created the greenhouse design and a detailed list of needed building materials. He purchased the supplies and invited students to join him on November 14 to begin the building process. “More than 20 students gave up six hours of their Saturday to come out and lend a hand,” Ison said. “I am very proud of our students – they went above and beyond.” Ison, school staff and students had much to show for their efforts, with completion of a sturdy greenhouse frame on the initial build day. Some will return to assist in adding an outer layer of plastic to the frame and build a door to the structure. The school’s culture encourages student involvement in various activities – from girls’ and boys’ basketball and robotics, to a host of guest speakers at student assemblies and a variety of community events. So, the greenhouse/garden project provides yet another opportunity to engage young minds. The fruits (and vegetables!) of students’ labors will ultimately benefit the local community. In addition to giving nutritious produce away, some will likely be cooked and served to students at school events. “Spring is going to be a fun time around here,” Ison said. “All students will be involved in planting and growing – they’re already talking about what they want to grow”

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