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Horticulture classes

Damien is standing in front of a paddock, with eucalyptus trees in the background. [Damien] All right, what we did was: in order to engage the kids a bit more using the iPads I had the class ed come up with a little storyboard situation where they need to look at the lifecycle of a plant, right from soil prep through to harvest and then create a little video on how would they – how do they prepare the soil. And then the kids got the iPads out and filmed each other either hoeing, or looking a the fertilizers or showing what tools they had but it was only a short little program, and then rather than try and do the whole thing from start through to finish, just look at – OK – just do the fertilizer for now and then break and then come back in and re-decide: “OK what do do we do next?” and then do the next part, so it’s not a massive task that they’ve got to try and undertake at a time. [Chris] Fantastic! And how will you use the QR tags? [Damien] Well the QR tags will be the thing that will allow them to self-direct for starters but it will also break it up, where they can – OK – here’s a new piece of , go and scan this tag, and it might say something like – um – I want you to show me a pest that attacks this particular plant and then maybe link off to some websites, and they come up with one pest and how to control it, and so forth from there, but a short, sharp, sort of project that they could get involved with. [Chris] Fantastic. And the functionality of these QR tags, or the apps that are running them is actually being able to request information from the students as part of that scan process, so what kind of information do you think might be requested? [Damien] Well you could do anything from – like I was just saying about pests and diseases but even through to: what sort of soil type have you got? [Chris] Yep. [Damien] and be able to then – OK – look up some websites or something or even do soil testing through links to different pages that we could set up that would then lead them on that directed learning but using very much a technology base which the kids are very au fait with. [Chris] Yep. Fantastic. And as part of that, they’ll be able to take video and upload it. [Damien] Absolutely. And there’s nothing the kids seem to like more than sticking themselves on video. They reckon that’s awesome fun. (Smiles) [Chris] (laughs) Well that’s fantastic. Thanks Damien for that. Great. Location changes to Damien in front of a vegetable plot with various varieties of seedlings. [Chris] OK Damien, um, we’re here with just a small garden patch here. So what have we got here? [Damien] We’ve got two things in this bed: we’ve got some broad beans here, and as you can see there’s a couple missed (camera pans down to indicate gaps in row of broad beans) but over the other side we’ve also got a row of peas. [Chris] Fantastic. Fantastic. And when were they planted? [Damien] They were planted probably about four to six weeks ago. [Chris] OK [Damien] We’re right in the middle of winter, just at the start of August at the moment. [Chris] OK [Damien] so a while ago now. [Chris] OK – so why did you plant them in August? Why are they planted in August? [Damien] Well one of the things we did was we got the kids to actually research what was able to be planted at that time, and these were a couple of things that came up that were available to plant, so that’s why we put them in. [Chris] Fantastic. And what kind of pests do you get? [Damien] Around here – you can probably see some of the calling cards (indicates soil indentations) but we get wallabies here, and they tend to chew off most of the things – you’ll notice that the peas are fairly well pruned – but they’re leaving the broad beans alone, so we’re finding out also what is resistant what things that wallabies don’t like to eat and we’re able to grow them here. [Chris] Cool. So what are you going to do about this? [Damien] Well we’ve actually got Bunnings on board and they’re going to help us out with building a wallaby-proof area (camera pans to indicate a large unplanted area) so that we can actually plant more gardens down on that area down there. [Chris] Fantastic. Excellent! Thanks for that! [Damien] No worries! (smiles) Location changes to Damien near some garden plots uphill from school buildings. [Damien] OK what we have here is the Primary school that’s working on this sort of thing (points to mulched beds with young seedlings) integrating all the way from kindy through to grade 5-6. but the grade 5-6 teacher, Mr Dean Prentiss, has been the driving force behind this, and he’s negotiated with me in getting some of the materials: we had a couple of garden beds that we weren’t using down at the garden site down there and he’s brought them up here and it’s creating a flow-on effect for the younger grades to see then that horticulture is something that’s useful within their own school, and they’ve been really excited about coming up here – they come in their old clothes and have a really good time – even the soil that they’ve got here, they’ve dug out a mound of soil from the path here and they’ve used sieves down the bottom there to sieve out all the rocks and used that same soil in here. They’ve done a lot of hard work – um – and it’s not finished yet. This is going to develop up into possibly getting fruit trees, possibly berries, and we’ll put them down the back of the school but really integrating the horticulture side of things into the school. [Chris] Fantastic. And how will technology help, do you think? [Damien] I think it adds that “wow” element. Where kids will come along and say “Hey – there’s something there that I can scan” and probably by that time they’ll have their own iPhones and things, and come in, scan that, and then all of a sudden “oh this is this sort of plant and this is where I can grow this perhaps at home”. Because the essence of what we’re looking for is people who want to take what they’ve learned at school here, but then apply it in either their own backyards or even their own community with a community garden. [Chris] Cool. That’s great – thanks, Damien! [Damien] No worries!

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