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Diane Balanovich's picture

Nature is man’s teacher.  She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eyes, illumes his mind, purifies his heart; and influence breathes from all sights and sounds of her existence.

                                                                                    -Alfred Billing Street

Diane Balanovich at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, Philadelphia School District. 

This grant money is intended to supplement the current science curriculum and to bring hands on experiences and experiments into the classroom. I am anticipating beginning an urban garden within my school.  I want students to see and experience the benefits of nature. I believe by creating this urban garden it will instill a desire to learn about how organisms grow and interact within an environment.  During the year, activities will continue to emerge and expand across curriculum content areas and continue to foster inquiry and experimenting throughout the year.

 Pennsylvania State Standards that will be addressed while implementing the grant:

3.1.4. A. Know that natural and human-made objects are made up of parts.

3.2.4. A. Identify and use the nature of scientific and technological knowledge.

3.3.4. A. Know the similarities and differences of living things.

3.6.4. A. Know that biotechnologies relate to propagating, growing, maintaining, adapting, treating and converting.

3.7.4. A. Explore the use of basic tools, simple materials and techniques to safely solve problems.

3.8.4. A. Know that people select, create and use science and technology and that they are limited by social and physical restraints.



The educational goals and outcomes will be, but not limited to, the following:


·        The students will be able to identify the elements that are needed in the environment for living organisms to grow.

·         The students will illustrate patterns that regularly occur and reoccur in nature.

·         The students will identify observable patterns.

·         The students will recognize change in natural and physical systems.

·         The students will be able to describe the change to objects caused by heat, cold, light or chemicals.

·         The students will provide clear explanations that account for observations and results.

·         The students will generate questions about objects, organisms and/or events that can be answered through scientific investigations.


These standards and outcomes will be addressed by using inquiry to generate questions and lead students to discover information.  The students will then and be able to expand their thoughts and drive their own instruction toward developing experiments to test their ideas. This allows studnets to develop inquiry skills that will continue to foster the love of learning and continue to understand that life is a continual cycle of learning. The materials will be used in the development of their experiments to test their ideas.





     When developing my plan, I decided to create a comprehensive program that would be used continuously throughout the year.

Introduction: Take the students outside and asking them to observe what's around them.  We would list everything we saw.  Then I would then prompt students to develop vocabulary about what we call the space that is around us ,such as surroundings, environment or niche.  We would then discuss, "What is present in the environment?" We would discuss do the elements in the environment change?  What changes are there?  How would it change how things grew.  The students would then be prompted to think about how we can change the environmental conditions.  They would then develop a plan on how to test the environnmental changes (amount of light and amount of water). EXECUTE EXPERIMENTS-Lesson

Students should make and log observations in journals. Collect and graph data about observed observations.

Materials needed: fast grow seeds, peat moss, perlite,light bulbs, bulb holder


Extention: After taking part in these experiments, I would like to expand their thinking by discussing things such as differences in, types of soil (ph), types of light, temperature and sources of water.  Experiments can be developed by the students to test these environmental changes.  Students should make and log observations in journals. Collect and graph data about observed observations. Report out on findings. Can conclusions be draw from these observations and data.

Materials: soil testing kit, peat moss, perlite, colored light bulbs, bulb holders, heating mat?

Native Plants:We would then continue to expand our thinking by discussing what types of plants are native to where we live. We would identify and plant some native plants in the garden. This could lead into a discussion on how Native Americans used the plants and herbs that were available to them. Social Studies can be tied in by discussing how people use natural resources for different products. Continuing from there, I would like encourage students to think about how they created these products and how we could go about reproducing their products.

Materials: vegetable seeds, flower seeds, rake, hoe, seed trays, fertilizer,mulch, grass seed

Extention: What insects are found within the native plant garden? What are they eating? What do they perfer to eat? Are insects the same in all environments? Composting can be addressed within this area too.

Environmental changes and plant life:  In the greenhouse, we would discuss how the environment is different in the greenhouse and because of the difference, could we grow different types of plants. We would then discuss how we would decide what plants would grow under the environmental conditions that are present. Students would need to take into account growing seasons and time for the seeds to grow. Can these items be planted with the amount of time that is present before the first frost or temperature changes in the season?

 Materials: vegetable seeds, flower seeds, rake, hoe, seed trays, fertilizer,mulch, grass seed


Equipment: Description of the equipment you plan to purchase.




Vegetable seeds                                 

7 pks.


Flower seeds

5 pks.


Grass seed

5 lbs.  (2)





Butterfly Garden Seeds







3.95 (5)


Peat Moss

3.2 cu ft. (4)


PH Test kit

1 kit


Heating mat


$85.96                                       Optional




Seed trays

 1     (5 pk.)


Bulb Holders



Colored Bulbs






Nature sun print paper



Sunflower Collection



Organic fertilizer

2 bottles (2 lbs.)


Book – Square Foot gardening




2 Cu Ft. (6)


Wisconsin Fast Plants

200 seeds


Total                                                                                                    $340.66 with heat mat $426.62