Learning by doing

Published 1:02 am Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hands-on learning outside the classroom makes the words one reads come alive. Students at Martin Middle School in Valley Grande and Edgewood Elementary School in Selma learned a little about various subjects Wednesday as they planted a garden of sorts.

The students at Edgewood planted collard greens, a fall vegetable familiar to most Southern tables, accompanied by hot sauce and corn bread.

More important than the home economics lesson came the geography and science lessons the children picked up almost by osmosis.

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Dozens of students stood anxiously at the patch, waiting for their turns to poke holes in plastic to set down a plant. They’ll watch them grow. They’ll see these plants turn sunlight into growth energy. They’ll watch the rain water those plants.

They also learn an important economic lesson — food does not come easy. Farmers sweat and work out in the sun. They grow on a much bigger scope, but the practice is similar. Farmers are captive by the sun and the rain and the wind, even temperatures.

These children will learn to care for the earth through using the plastic farming method — a way to increase sometimes fourfold yields on fields.

They will learn this type of farming comes from the Middle East, where water is a precious resource and drip irrigation combined with the moisture-holding plastic conserves the water.

While books are necessary and theories are important for the mind to grasp, there’s nothing like hands-on experiences for young children to see lessons evolve before their eyes.