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School Garden and Living Laboratory at BIBA

November, 2016
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biba-gardeningBeijing International Bilingual Academy’s School Garden and Living Laboratory is the unofficial name of BIBA’s institutional garden. It is situated at the very heart of the school campus. Built late last year as a unified project, the garden was designed to be maintained by the whole school. Having only recently been built, the responsibilities for maintenance and monitoring of the garden’s facilities had not been fully realized. 

This school year, the garden and living laboratory is overseen by a school-wide garden committee. BIBA Middle School has a gardening elective class meant to be part and parcel of the students’ schedule that is taking the lead in planning the garden.

The science department settled on the idea to offer a Middle School gardeningelective. The goal is to incorporate scientific knowledge with life skills through this elective course. The program starts with research about the plants, tabulation of dates and properties of plants, germination in the lab, transferring of plants from petri dish to dish pans, transferring of plants to the plant boxes, cultivating the plants and harvesting as a final activity.

The first harvest of the gardening class was shortly after the October holiday. Students harvested Chinese cabbage, lettuce and water spinach. Hot pot was thought to be the best way to prepare and eat the salad since it is a bit chilly around this time of the year. The second harvest took place at the end of October, giving the gardening students the chance to share veggies with their families.

The gardening class has now taken on a bigger challenge, to come up with a design for the whole garden that incorporates a yearlong plan and involves every level from the Early Learning Center (ECC) through High School. The group has brainstormed, discussed and researched on how to incorporate the whole school as well as ways to continually beautify the garden. 

Meanwhile, as winter is coming, the gardening class members are busy preparing the plots for the next planting season. The preparation phase involves design of the ornamental decoration of the garden, putting up garden signs and boards and scheduling class visits for the Elementary and ECC classes to encourage the younger students to get involved in the planting process.

Gardening, as a student-led elective is more than just a class, it also supports the IB learners’ profile. Highlighting the 4R’s at BIBA, it is observed that each member of the group has developed a sense of responsibility and a relationship with one another as they work together. The rigor of designing and planning the garden has given the students great joy and happiness. The Middle School students have improved their level of understanding and respect as they carefully consider the younger students’ ideas in creating and maintaining an ideal, beautiful and meaningful school garden. 

 

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