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Submitted By

Kristy Clougherty

Pasadena, CA, United States


Students at Washington STEAM Magnet Academy are currently designing a native pollinator garden (to be installed in the 2016-17 school year), studying local floral and fauna, participating in citizen-science projects, innovating new ideas for a waste-less city, expressing opinions with local government about environmental issues, and participating in art and creative writing that sheds light on the importance of caring about the world in which we live. It is difficult to choose a category because so much of what the classes are doing fit into multiple submissions. Choosing the photos was also difficult… so many great things taking place on this campus!

Having a separate edible garden from the native garden will provide great juxtaposition for students, since the plants and animals will have similarities and a variety of differences for comparison. Students can track the number of a certain species and report on observations from the two gardens, just like the student in the first picture. Students love being in the garden and taking field trips (we take many)! Everyone is excited about installing an outdoor classroom.

The data gathered by students is sent to researchers in both California and Georgia. Results on monarch health are shared with the students. Staff hopes to build a vivarium to further engage students in checking for O.e. parasites under microscopes before releasing the tagged specimen. The number of plant and animal species to be studied in vivariums are nearly endless!

Nature education inspires! The winning team (shown in last picture) developed an innovative idea that uses a better tagging and reporting system for monarch citizen-science that applies a QR code and provides immediate data response. Inspired by the tedious task of tagging and submitting data while at school.

Award Winning Entry: Celestron Binocular Winner

Washington STEAM Academy Pollinator Garden Project

Washington STEAM Magnet Academy, a Title I socio-economically challenged school, was established three years ago and continues to grow it's emphasis on environmental conservation. The "S" in STEAM is a new focus at Washington STEAM where 6-8th grade students recently began studying native plants and animals of Pasadena as part of an ongoing native pollinator garden project fully led by students. Students document their research using citizen science apps such as iNaturalist, JourneyNorth, and The Natural History Museum of LA Citizen Scientists. Some classrooms tag and parasite test monarch butterflies to help researchers learn more about monarchs in the LA region. English classrooms focus on conservation by creatively using art and writing to express a waste-less community. These students study local politics and communicate with city representatives sharing their innovative ideas. Teachers have plans to add binoculars for bird studies to their wish list because of their new partnership with Pasadena Audubon Society and several are already investigating CA Condors with students. Plans are also in the works to install a vivarium for a more in depth study of flora and fauna. Washington STEAM Magnet Academy is only just beginning, but the school is already producing innovative thinkers who show care and concern for the world around them.

Students investigating the existing Edible Garden's non-native milkweed species for monarchs and their community.

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