Valerie Metzler's Inquiry of
applied science learning
The environmental science class at our school hosted a meeting for the USDA/NRCS and Philadelphia farmers. At this event, students were responsible for welcoming attendees to their high school and describing the unique components of their school to the guests. Students also had the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of local farmers. Although most of the students do not have a specific interest in farming, all are familiar with growing vegetables since they have worked with Henry’s Got Crops CSA and several are planning to pursue degrees in environmental science and agriculture. It was great for students to hear from local farmers in order to gain a deeper appreciation for farming, and it was surprising to see them so excited about telling the guests about their school.
As I was reflecting on this event, Bransford, et al. (1999)’s book came to mind, which reflects on the impact of student interactions with the local community. “It can be very motivating both to students and teacher to have opportunities to share their work with others. Opportunities to prepare for these events helps teachers raise standards because the consequences go beyond mere scores on a test” (149).
VIDEO 1: The students were responsible for welcoming the group to their school and were also required to ask questions of the farmers and lead a tour once the meeting had commenced. This event was a unique opportunity for students to be the face of their school for those attending the event and to represent the school as they interacted with community members who are involved in agriculture.
VIDEO 2: Students asked Philadelphia farmers why they decided to get involved with farming.
Sobel (2004) has also found sources that reinforce the importance of building ties between schools and their communities. He says, “community forums build bridges between school improvement, community vitality, and environmental quality” (59). He brings attention to cases in which certain communities have synergistic relationships with their local schools, which enhance both learning opportunities and community development initiatives. Interactions between communities and schools are mutually strengthening each other on an organizational level and also on an individual basis, giving students motivation to perform and opportunities to network with community members who have the potential to provide students with internship or job opportunities in the future. According to current research, when students have opportunities to present to professionals outside of school, teachers and students collaborate and students are more motivated to do well (Sobel, D. 2004).