STARS (Students Taking Alternate Routes to Success)
During the Spring of 2021, a big team of BMS teachers got together every week, after school, with the goal to re-engage their students post Covid through hands-on experiential learning. As a result, they applied for an Innovation Grant through the Maine Department of Education and when they received the grant, they chose a group of students to be their “pilot class” during the 2021-2022 school year and named the class STARS.
The STARS (Students Taking Alternate Routes to Success) class taught by Hannah Bailey (Art), Kent Burnham (7th grade science) and Katie Ingalls (Special Education Teacher) were challenged to design an outdoor classroom for their school.
During the first year of the project, the STARS class:
- worked with a local construction crew to make building plans, construct and paint the outdoor classroom
- built and painted all the furniture for the outdoor classroom
- helped create a sign out system for teachers to use the space with their classes
- cleaned and maintained the space all year long
- built 12 raised garden beds and began planting seeds
- built a wood fired pizza oven and made homemade pizzas using some of the veggies they grew in the garden!
With a new goal to build a greenhouse in 2022, a group of BMS teachers got together and submitted a Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) grant through the Maine Department of Education. As they worked on the grant they read about Maine Garden Products greenhouses as well as about the aquaponics greenhouse at Jonesport-Beals High School in the MSGN newsletter, which they visited as part of their research. After they received the RREV grant, the BMS team spent lots of time together outside of school designing the greenhouse to not only have a space to grow plants but also to include a kitchen and full aquaponics system.
The greenhouse was constructed during the 2022-2023 school year and has a full kitchen inside with a stove/oven, fridge, sinks and lots of counter space for full classes of students to cook. It also has an aquaponics system with aquaponic beds and a fish tank to grow produce all year long. During the 2022-2023 school year students were able to start growing seedlings. All of the BMS teachers are very excited to work in this new space and many activities have started happening this 2023-2024 school year.
BMS is very proud of their new outdoor space and can’t wait for all of the experiential learning opportunities that will happen in this space!
Here is what has been happening so far:
Students have been using the kitchen space inside the greenhouse to:
- collect and boil sap into maple syrup
- make pancakes and test their syrup – it was delicious!
- made lots of yummy pizzas in the pizza oven
- make fresh pasta, baba ganoush, cookies, breads, homemade ice cream, working with several BMS teachers and guest chefs!
Students in Beth Dickie and Hannah Bailey’s ALL STARS class (a hands-on, outdoor education, experiential learning class for all 7th and 8th graders) created their own pizza business. They created a budget, inventory, menu, logo and commercial before finally testing out their pizza recipes in the wood fired oven.
Students in Kent Burnhams 7th grade science class have been testing the water quality of the fish tank for the aquaponic system and are working very hard to get everything ready for the fish. BMS hopes to have fish in the aquaponic tank by the end of November.
The greenhouse and garden beds are currently maintained by BMS teachers with a rotating schedule during the school year and summer months- Hannah Bailey (Art), Gwen Murphy (8th grade science), Jess Carter (Health), and Kent Burnham (7th grade science).
Want to know more?!
- Contact Hannah Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check out the Lesson Plan of the Month: Apple Pie Experience
- Innovation Grant The Office of Innovation believes that by empowering bold innovators in education through professional development, resource creation and dissemination, convenings, grants, and support for policy implementation, they will develop, nurture, and foster educational innovation and new ideas in all levels of public-school organizations, which will ensure that all learners are prepared to achieve their postsecondary aspirations.
- Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures Grant (RREV) provided funding for visionary educators to develop innovative pilot programs to address the needs of students in remote and hybrid settings through new and creative ventures. These grants are not currently available.
- Maine Garden Products: ask about their discount for greenhouses for Maine School Gardens!
- Jonesport Beals High School: read their School Garden of the Month profile from February 2022