Why are 1st Graders in the Garden?

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Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty.  Why?  Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.

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Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.  Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.

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These first graders took time to plant radishes.  However, they weren’t just planting radishes.  They were also learning about energy that plants need to grow. They also deepened their understanding of how plants get nutrients from the soil to grow, flower and produce food.

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While they were in the garden, they snipped dozens of marigold blossoms in order to make garlands to decorate their classroom in celebration of fall harvest season!

1st Graders Spend Time Outdoors Observing Living and Nonliving Things

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First grade scientists recently ventured outside with Ms. Katie, Ms. Becky, and Ms. Emily as they began learning out in the field in The Outdoor Learning Center (TOLC.) They observed and recorded living and nonliving parts of our environment.  They discussed that all living things grow, eat, react, reproduce, and move. Students were fascinated to learn the different ways plants move! They also noted several ways that plant and animals show signs of life by reacting to stimuli.

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Community Resources — Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center

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In May, third grade students visited the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. They learned about tree identification.  When they returned to school, they teamed up with Ms. Emily and began identifying trees in The Outdoor Learning Center. Students identified many varieties including Peach, Sassafras, Sycamore, Oak and Poplar trees.

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Teachers use community resources like the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center to show students real life applications of things they learn in the classroom.  Of course a student can learn about a tree from a book, but it’s not until they are in the woods learning about leaves, bark, flowers and seeds that they make the deep connections that lead to life long learning.  Community partnerships are an integral piece of your child’s education at The Learning Center!

Garden Tool Donation

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Local landscaper/gardener Tim Ryan from Brasstown makes a hearty donation of tools to help the miniature gardeners at The Learning Center. We thank Mr. Ryan for helping the next generation of stewards get hands on experience in the garden and out in the forests.

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1st & 3rd Grades Build Garden Fairy Houses Together

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Before school let out for summer, students in first and third grades collaborated to construct fairy houses in the woods. Students found once they built a house they got other inhabitants such as ants, spiders and grasshoppers!
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Let’s Turnip the Beet!

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Earlier this Spring, these students harvested the beets that they planted as seed in the garden. Ms. Emily took them home and cooked them for the students to eat as well. Growing vegetables is an important way to get young kids interested in where their food comes and try new foods. Way to go students!

Are you part of the Green & Clean Crew?

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Our school Green & Clean Crew is responsible for keeping our grounds looking beautiful. If you like getting your hands dirty, or finding an excuse to be outdoors on a beautiful day, we have a job for you! Contact the office and find out how you can become part of this “growing” group.

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Coleman is Learning Center’s Aquaponics Man

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Local aquaponics enthusiast, Bill Coleman shares his passion for the agricultural technique with middle school students at The Learning Center! Charter School. He talks excitedly about the potential aquaponics has to produce sustainable food anywhere – even on rooftops.

He explains that aquaponics is the marriage between aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). It is an integrated system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. The fish, kept in tanks, produce waste that supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water that is returned to the fish. The two systems benefit from each other. A third actor is the bacteria that converts the ammonia from the fish waste – first into nitrites, then into nitrates – that feed the plants. “Did you know,” Coleman excitedly asks, “that aquaponics requires only one-tenth the water of soil-based gardening?”

Coleman, a parent of former students at the school, got interested in aquaponics around four years ago – “quite by accident,” he adds – and experimented and perfected his own system. He decided to offer his volunteer efforts long-term to an “Aquaponics Elective” course at The Learning Center. He teaches a two-hour course every Friday for 6th 7th and 8th graders.

Coleman began by building the components, fashioning the tanks and perfecting the sump that is at the center of success of aquaponics design. Over time, the design went from 4 sq.ft. of growing area to about 120 sq. ft. “There were challenges that took months to iron out, including issues with water leakage,” said Coleman. “The whole process was two steps forward and one step back. The students, however, never faltered and we learned a great deal along the way.”

In this student run aquaponics system, one of many goals is to provide fresh, organic food that will be used in the school kitchen. “We have grown lettuce, broccoli, kale, peppers, arugula and more,” said Coleman. Students are learning the science of agriculture, botany, engineering skills and building techniques.

“We are excited about the community involvement in this important project,” said Coleman.” Materials were donated from local stores such as Lowe’s, TEAM Industries, Wilson’s, Hughes Electric, and from individuals just wanting to help the with the project.

If you would like to get involved in the aquaponics project at The Learning Center, or just discuss aquaponics and compare notes, contact Bill Coleman through the school at 828-835-7240.

6th Grade Compacted Math — Scale Drawings of School Gardens

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Compacted Math is a program at our school for eligible students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Students enter Compacted Math in 6th grade and by the time they complete 8th grade, they will have mastered 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade math concepts.

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These students recently headed outside to take measurements to begin creating scale drawings of the school gardens. They are studying geometric figures in the classroom and this hands on activity make the math concepts take on practical meaning.  By determining an appropriate scale, they will be able to create smaller drawings using that scale.

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Visiting Artist Plans Recycled Art Project for Campus Gardens

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Back in March, Ashevile based artist, Jeff Menzer, visited The Learning Center to plan projects he and students will be implementing on campus this spring. Mr. Menzer specializes in creating “Re-Art” Sculpture, figurative sculpture, and environmental installations using found objects and industrial discards.  This spring he will work with our students to turn discarded trampoline parts into art pieces that will become part of The Outdoor Learning Center.

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This large scale art piece project serves to involve students in the design process, involve students in collaborative problem solving of environmental issues through the creative process, and to complete two art sculptures, one a shelter and one large bug, that will be permanently installed on campus.