School Garden Center
Beyond the more obvious science connections (see Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) Standards below), gardens provide a variety of opportunities for meeting other core curriculum standards.
- Language arts connections include interacting with informational texts, documenting observations in journals, recording experiments and explaining the results, and creating authentic written pieces such as cookbooks, thank you letters for garden volunteers, and garden signs.
- School gardens can help meet social studies objectives by giving students an opportunity to explore different cultures and historical times through food.
- Planning, designing, and planting a school garden requires students to problem solve and use math skills such as measuring, charting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and budgeting.
- Plant materials and soil from the garden can be used for a wide variety of art projects (see the Art in the Garden page of the School Garden Center).
- Growing fruits and vegetables provides an opportunity to discuss healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Research suggests that students who are actively involved in growing fruits and vegetables are more likely to have positive attitudes and preferences related to eating fruits and vegetables.
Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) Standards
Strand K.2: Living Things and Their Surroundings
Living things (plants and animals, including humans) depend on their surroundings to get what they need, including food, water, shelter, and a favorable temperature. The characteristics of surroundings influence where living things are naturally found. Plants and animals affect and respond to their surroundings.
Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to describe patterns of what living things (plants and animals, including humans) need to survive. Emphasize the similarities and differences between the survival needs of all living things. Examples could include that plants depend on air, water, minerals, and light to survive, or animals depend on plants or other animals to survive.
Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about patterns in the relationships between the needs of different living things (plants and animals, including humans) and the places they live. Emphasize that living things need water, air, and resources and that they live in places that have the things they need. Examples could include investigating plants grown in various locations and comparing the results or comparing animals with the places they live.
Strand 1.2: The Needs of Living Things and Their Offspring
Living things (plants and animals, including humans) depend on their surroundings to get what they need, including food, water, shelter, and a favorable temperature. Plants and animals have external features that allow them to survive in a variety of environments. Young plants and animals are similar but not exactly like their parents. In many kinds of animals, parents and offspring engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive.
Plan and carry out an investigation to determine the effect of sunlight and water on plant growth. Emphasize investigations that test one variable at a time.
Construct an explanation by observing patterns of external features of living things that survive in different locations. Emphasize how plants and nonhuman animals, found in specific surroundings, share similar physical characteristics. Examples could include that plants living in dry areas are more likely to have thick outer coatings that hold in water, animals living in cold locations have longer and thicker fur, or most desert animals are awake at night.
Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the patterns of plants and nonhuman animals that are alike, but not exactly like, their parents. An example could include that most carrots are orange and shaped like a cone but may be different sizes or have differing tastes.
Strand 2.2: Living Things and Their Habitats
Living things (plants and animals, including humans) need water, air, and resources from the land to survive and live in habitats that provide these necessities. The physical characteristics of plants and animals reflect the habitat in which they live. Animals also have modified behaviors that help them survive, grow, and meet their needs. Humans sometimes mimic plant and animal adaptations to survive in their environment.
Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about patterns of living things (plants and animals, including humans) in different habitats. Emphasize the diversity of living things in land and water habitats. Examples of patterns in habitats could include descriptions of temperature or precipitation and the types of plants and animals found in land habitats.
Plan and carry out an investigation of the structure and function of plant and animal parts in different habitats. Emphasize how different plants and animals have different structures to survive in their habitat.
Develop and use a model that mimics the function of an animal dispersing seeds or pollinating plants. Examples could include plants that have seeds with hooks or barbs that attach themselves to animal fur, feathers, or human clothing, or dispersal through the wind, or consumption of fruit and the disposal of the pits or seeds.
Strand 3.2: Effects of Traits on Survival
Organisms (plants and animals, including humans) have unique and diverse life cycles, but they all follow a pattern of birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited traits. An organism’s traits are inherited from its parents and can be influenced by the environment. Variations in traits between individuals in a population may provide advantages in surviving and reproducing in particular environments. When the environment changes, some organisms have traits that allow them to survive, some move to new locations, and some do not survive. Humans can design solutions to reduce the impact of environmental changes on organisms.
Develop and use models to describe changes that organisms go through during their life cycles. Emphasize that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but follow a pattern of birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Examples of changes in life cycles could include how some plants and animals look different at different stages of life or how other plants and animals only appear to change size in their life.
Analyze and interpret data to identify patterns of traits that plants and animals have inherited from parents. Emphasize the similarities and differences in traits between parent organisms and offspring and variation of traits in groups of similar organisms.
Construct an explanation that the environment can affect the traits of an organism. Examples could include that the growth of normally tall plants is stunted with insufficient water or that pets given too much food and little exercise may become overweight.
Construct an explanation showing how variations in traits and behaviors can affect the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce. Examples of traits could include large thorns protecting a plant from being eaten or strong-smelling flowers to attracting certain pollinators.
Engage in argument from evidence that in a particular habitat (system) some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all. Emphasize that organisms and habitats form systems in which the parts depend upon each other. Examples of evidence could include needs and characteristics of the organisms and habitats involved such as cacti growing in dry, sandy soil but not surviving in wet, saturated soil.
Design a solution to a problem caused by a change in the environment that impacts the types of plants and animals living in that environment. Define the problem, identify criteria and constraints, and develop possible solutions. Examples of environmental changes could include changes in land use, water availability, temperature, food, or changes caused by other organisms.
Strand 4.1: Organisms Functioning in Their Environment
Through the study of organisms, inferences can be made about environments both past and present. Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions for growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. Animals use different sense receptors specialized for particular kinds of information to understand and respond to their environment. Some kinds of plants and animals that once lived on Earth can no longer be found. However, fossils from these organisms provide evidence about the types of organisms that lived long ago and the nature of their environments. Additionally, the presence and location of certain fossil types indicate changes that have occurred in environments over time.
Construct an explanation from evidence that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. Emphasize how structures support an organism’s survival in its environment and how internal and external structures of plants and animals vary within the same and across multiple Utah environments.
Strand 5.3: Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems
Matter cycles within ecosystems and can be traced from organism to organism. Plants use energy from the Sun to change air and water into matter needed for growth. Animals and decomposers consume matter for their life functions, continuing the cycling of matter. Human behavior can affect the cycling of matter. Scientists and engineers design solutions to conserve Earth’s environments and resources.
Construct an explanation that plants use air, water, and energy from sunlight to produce plant matter needed for growth. Emphasize photosynthesis at a conceptual level and that plant matter comes mostly from air and water, not from the soil. Photosynthesis at the cellular level will be taught in Grades 6 through 8.