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A growing success at St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  November 3, 2011 03:54 PM

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(Courtesy: Boston College)

Students and teachers at the St. Columbkille Partnership School held a farmer’s market recently.

The following is a press release from Boston College:

Students at St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton recently held their first farmer's market selling out of the herbs and vegetables they cultivated during the past month in a new indoor garden they planted as part of a science education project developed by Boston College Professor of Education Mike Barnett.

On Oct. 23, Students and teachers set up a table filled with basil, chard, kale and dill for St. Columbkille parishioners and residents looking for fresh food, said Barnett, who has partnered with schools throughout the city to use indoor gardens to teach science, math and nutrition, along with a little bit of economics and a lot of fun.

“The farmer’s market was an overwhelming success,” Barnett said, an associate professor in the Lynch School of Education. “The kids were absolutely fantastic and got everything organized and handled the market perfectly. It was just an outstanding job.”

Proceeds from the sale will fund the next three crops the students will plant in their classroom garden, where plants grow in a hydroponic system that supplies water, nutrients and light from low-energy grow lamps. The students hope to be able to conduct farmer’s markets throughout the fall and winter.

Barnett says that the process of starting up the indoor farm requires students to research hydroponics and understand topics in physics, chemistry and plant biology, as well as finance and the economics of operating a farm. Barnett says this interdisciplinary approach to science education gives students a chance to understand that science is not something that should be limited to a single class. Instead, scientific thinking crosses many subjects and extends well beyond the school walls.

This innovative approach is part of a series of projects Barnett has undertaken to expand options for students to learn more about the so-called STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and get them thinking about potential STEM careers.

Boston College and St. Columbkille Partnership School have forged a model collaboration in the five years since the university and the Brighton parish launched a school-university partnership in order to save the last remaining Catholic elementary school in Brighton. Barnett’s work is just one example of the support and technical expertise BC and its Lynch School of Education have provided at St. Columbkille.

Barnett’s hydroponics project has been supported by Boston College, Loyola Marymount University of California, GYOstuff, STEM Garden Institute, Urban Ecology Institute, BC’s College Bound program and Hydroponics Organics Indoor Gardens, as well as funding from Irving Backman, a Dedham entrepreneur.

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