Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Colorado Springs-area students learning science, nutrition in a whole new way. 'Can You Dig It?'

May 20, 2018 Updated: May 22, 2018 at 9:17 am
0
Caption +
Former science teacher and gardening curriculum developer Delores Higgins helps student Jordan Bailey with Wednesday's lesson plan. Photo by Debbie Kelley

Nine-year-old Preston Freeman closed his eyes, bit into a cucumber slice and savored the cool, crisp taste.

"It's my favorite veg. . . er, fruit," he said, smiling as he caught himself in a near mistake of the lesson his class was studying Wednesday.

The cucumber is a fruit, not a vegetable, because it grows from the flower of a plant and contains seeds, third-graders at Remington Elementary in Falcon School District 49 learned this week.

The same goes for beans, peppers, pumpkins, peas and tomatoes, many of which students dissected with plastic knives Wednesday to find and count the seeds.

"I like doing this because I like messing with stuff," declared 9-year-old Tye Spaulding.

The fun, hands-on activity is part of the "Can You Dig It?" plant science curriculum developed by recently retired Colorado Springs School District 11 science teacher Delores Higgins, who is working to get it into classrooms.

The course is a multi-tiered winner, said Remington Principal Lisa Fillo.

The material aligns with Colorado academic standards, she said, and integrates not only science, but also reading, writing and math.

Third graders Spencer McKeever, left, and Preston Freeman, work as a team on cutting open produce to determine whether it's a fruit or vegetable. Photo by Debbie Kelley 

"It's very kid-friendly and student-centered. The students are driving their own learning," Fillo said.

Remington tried the program as a pilot last year, and teachers liked it so much that it's now part of the lineup for the school's 100 third-graders.

"This is a lot more engaging than just textbook-style teaching," Fillo said. "The students are so excited about it."

Higgins, highly regarded as an expert in agriculture for young learners, wrote the "Can You Dig It?" book for elementary school students and created corresponding third-grade curriculum.

Children receive a "tool kit" containing the book, vivid garden makers and a mesh bag to hold fruits and vegetables.

The colorful book - not "dumbed down" for students, but serious and scientifically accurate - is made of plastic.

"So kids can take in into the garden, refer to it and hose it down, if they need to," Higgins said.

Her goal: Develop budding horticulturalists who know where their food comes from and how to grow it.

"It takes the science they've already learned in school, why plants grow, and helps them understand how plants grow," she said.

If kids can grasp that concept, it's an easy step to graduating to full-fledged gardener.

And, "it helps them think about healthier eating and nutrition," Higgins said. Plus, gardening teaches resiliency, perseverance, patience and sharing the bounty, she added.

A lot of Remington students had never been introduced to an author, which added to the specialness of this week's gardening lessons.

Mason Antisdel said having Higgins talk about the book and answer more than 200 questions from students Tuesday was nearly too good to be true.

"I think it is awesome to meet a real author," he said. "The book is really interesting; it teaches us about facts about plants."

What has he learned?

"Carrots store sugar in the leaves, and once the sugar goes into the roots, it turns into energy," Mason said.

Higgins said it took her years to develop the "step-by-step gardening guide for the curious small gardener" and companion curriculum.

A stack of rejection letters from publishers measures more than 6 inches tall. So she self-published the material, spending about $65,000 on production alone.

"Which takes a while to save up when you're a teacher," she said.

From educational experiments to garden supply lists to tricks of the trade, kids can absorb it all and possibly grow a beanstalk to rival Jack's.

"It's a curriculum that's lifelong," Principal Fillo said. "They'll carry this knowledge into their adult lives."

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 

Exclusive Subscriber Content

You read The Gazette because you care about your community and the local stories you can't find anywhere else.

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber? Get Access | Already a digital subscriber? Log In
 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.