Inquisitive children at Trinity Elementary are halfway through a three-class series that traces kernels of corn to a warm bowl of hot popcorn in the “Popcorn Project.” Educators from Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse met with the second graders earlier in the year to visit the corn crop on school grounds that they planted last year as first graders. The stalks, tended by students in the summer program, produced ample cobs. In the first day of the sequence, the students visited the raised beds to observe firsthand the results of their planting the kernels last year. The stalks were pulled out and the cobs allowed to dry. Two weeks later, in the second day of the educational sequence, educator Naomi Gams-Towers presented the dried brown stalks to the students. Students came to the front of the room and identified the parts.
Then each child was given a corn cob to measure, observe with magnifying glasses and document findings. They diligently produced careful sketches and notations. A highlight of the class was watching a video (https://binged.it/2Cy9FZF ) of the kernel to plant growth cycle. “Wow! That’s amazing” said one student. “Can you show that again?” said someone else.
Educator Joyce Kent brought a fully germinating Indian corn cob for the class to experience (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uSmEM6ON7s ) Kent had put the dried corn cob horizontally in water for two weeks and the kernels sprouted into bright green stalks. The children gingerly pulled off individual seedlings and were amazed. At the third and final session of this horticultural educational sequence, students will pop the corn in a clear air-popper and learn the science of the kernel explosion. A companion children’s book will be read to reinforce learning.
The Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse committee will be taking this cohort of students, which they started with in first grade, through fifth grade, year after year to design a garden program that can be replicated throughout all the grades in years to come. Funding for this program was provided by a generous Westchester County Board of Legislator grant. The raised beds were built with funds from a New Rochelle Fund for Excellence grant.
Click here for photos from the activity.