Before 2019, teachers at Saugerties High School – located in Saugerties, New York – held outdoor classes in the school’s garden. There was heightened interest in more opportunities for hands-on learning, so a few visionary individuals engaged Ceres to design a 30’x50’ HighYield™ educational greenhouse.
Constructed in the months leading up to the pandemic, the greenhouse unfortunately sat unused for roughly a year and a half before students started using it for classes during the 2021/2022 school year. Now with the year-round Ceres greenhouse at the teachers’ disposal, there are a plethora of educational opportunities they can tap into for their living classroom curriculum.
The Saugerties greenhouse is used for horticulture, biology, and living environment classes. One of the high school science teachers described a lab conducted in the greenhouse where the students tested seed growth in different media. After the seeds germinated, they planted some in the garden and left some in the greenhouse to grow in the greenhouse’s aquaponic system. The same teacher noted that an unforeseen benefit of the greenhouse has been seeing the students get so excited and attached to the plants that they’ve grown. The students are able to get outside for at least some of their lab period and become completely relaxed and more engaged – something which is especially important after all they’ve been through with the pandemic.
When two Ceres employees visited the Saugerties greenhouse in January of 2022, they were able to observe a class and see the excitement the space brought to the students. On that particular day the students were in the middle of an IPM (integrated pest management) unit, and practiced microscope work with the insects they found.
Another great learning tool is the greenhouse’s aquaponic system, which uses goldfish instead of the traditional Tilapia species. The aquaponic system demonstrates nutrient cycling and a more sustainable means of growing plants. The kids help take care of the goldfish and are in charge of their own plants. As a result, they better understand the relationship between the two pieces of the system. One of the teachers observed that many of the kids who don’t engage much in traditional classroom settings, come into the greenhouse and light up, work hard, and enjoy learning in the space.
At Ceres, we’ve discovered that the educational greenhouses we design provide more than just a space for horticultural experiments, serving a truly important connection to the natural world that traditional classroom settings just can’t access. This connection rings true from elementary school greenhouses to university greenhouses. If you’re interested in learning more about starting an educational greenhouse project for your school, contact us today.