In early October, Park Pride and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, in collaboration with West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Grove Park community gardeners and the Atlanta Public School System, engaged 107 third-grade students from Woodson Park Academy in a fun-filled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education event at the Grove Park Pollinator Garden. STEM lessons offer students learning experiences that closely reflect the real-world scenarios and professions that require skills crossing disciplines.
Grove Park Pollinator Garden, along with four other gardens in City of Atlanta parks, are part of the “Pollinators in Parks” initiative, funded by The Home Depot Foundation through the Building Community Network (BCN). The 100-square-foot gardens are intended to improve Atlanta’s long-term biodiversity and ecological health. They introduce native plants that provide foraging sites for nectar-loving pollinators in the spring, summer and fall, host plants for pollinator eggs and larvae, sheltering sites for overwintering pollinators, and seed sources for winter resident birds.
Education beyond the gardens is an important goal of the “Pollinators in Parks” initiative, and this event is one of two planned to inform the broader community about the benefits of pollinators and how they can be incorporated into parks and gardens. Throughout their morning in the park, Woodson Park Academy students partook in several hands-on activities that brought them up close and personal with pollinators, the mechanics of pollination, and different components of the local environment.
Students learned how cross-pollination occurs in nature when they became worker-bees in and exciting pollinator relay race. They used nets to examine bees and butterflies before releasing them back to the environment. They learned about the water cycle, the Proctor Creek Watershed, and the amphibians that live in the area. Students also enjoyed a guided tour of the Grove Park community garden from local gardeners and planted winter vegetables including kale, chard, lettuce, broccoli and collard greens (left).
Information about pollinators in the Atlanta region as well as the pilot pollinator gardens in Atlanta’s parks can be found online at Greater Atlanta Pollinator Project. A second STEM educational activity is being planned for middle/high school level students.