Team Taught Environmental Science Class Plants Their Own Trees

November 08, 2019

The goal of the planting the three trees was to support active environmental and climate change education at Lee HS.   Mrs. Perz-Waddington (Lee HS community member and Master Naturalist) was the leader and catalyst for the planting. We also had support of grounds staff and local urban foresters at the event in addition to my ESOL science teacher collaborator Marina Dewees.  My role as the main science teacher contact has been to select a group of students and a course to start this climate change service learning opportunity.  We selected the new Environmental Science because this class is all about getting involved the the actual science so getting dirty and planting trees was perfect for them.  They are class of 18 ESOL team taught Environmental Science students who are mixed grades but mostly 9th graders.   For the last two weeks students had been learning about the water and carbon cycle.  After this event they will over the next month be making and observing closed bottle ecosystem models to discover more about the balance of water and carbon in our environment.  Before Thanksgiving Break and in March before Spring break we will start a twice a year new event of measuring the trees. The long term plan is for them and future Environmental Science students to track the annual changes in tree diameter (DBH) and height.  These measurements can help us track tree growth and health.  Students calculate carbon storage and make connections to this process of planting trees can help combat climate change. I hope the students walk away from these experiences feeling like stewards of their community and that they can individual and as a group make a difference in our environment. Next, in spring 2020 the same group will take our Lancer Outdoor Lab compost and butterfly native plant seeds to build a butterfly garden. Between these additional trees and this new butterfly garden, we will be certifying as an Eco-schools certified school yard habitat and applying for the Bronze Level Eco-School Award by National Wildlife Federation.   We are super thankful for the support from the Lee HS administration, grounds staff, custodial staff, local Master Naturalists and Gardner, Fairfax urban forestry, NVSWCD, Fairfax Storm water, and FCPS Get2Green who have all given us time, supplies, and support!  We hope to showcase students main take stewardship reflections during Earth Week through an Environmental Showcase in April and everyone is invited!