Waukesha Students Plant Seeds for the Future
Collaborative project between White Rock Elementary and Waukesha West High helps students learn about urban ecology.
“Growing minds, growing food and growing our community here in Waukesha,” student teacher Aaron O'Connell said to the Waukesha School Board curriculum and instruction committee last week.
The classwork is project-based, cross-curricular; and involves elementary up through high school students in collaboration. This past year, White Rock students took field trips to Growing Power, Inc. in Milwaukee to learn about urban ecology. They also worked with Waukesha West students, who recently worked hard to rehab an unused greenhouse, adding hydroponics.
O'Connell showed the committee a video the elementary and high school students made about the project. He also brought tomato plants grown in the West greenhouse for the board members. Also grown at the school is peppers, watercress, basil and duckweed, he said.
Joe Jenna, Waukesha West special education teacher, was instrumental in championing and organizing the project, O’Connell said. Jenna worked with students in the engineering classes to put together a design for the hydroponics used the greenhouse and worked with students in the greenhouse.
Next year, with White Rock closed, O’Connell is taking what he’s learned this year with him to Waukesha South High School, where he has plans to have high school Spanish students work with elementary school bilingual students, learning about and doing urban gardening but also learning and increasing language skills.