Sub-irrigated planters called SIPs teach the scientific method for growing all plants whether edible, decorative or for science experiments.
We clearly need more plant science taught in labs in schools and fewer school gardens in the dirt outside.
A far better solution than a dirt garden is the program we implemented at PS 102 across the street from where I live. I donated a light garden for year round plant science education and 15 bucket type SIPs for use outdoors in the garden adjacent to the school.
With the use of SIPs, there is no need for breaking paved surfaces or plowing land. All that is needed is space with adequate sunlight.
Dirt gardens do little or nothing to improve our science education or our out-of-date horticultural education. They are an unnecessary educational amenity. All they do is waste hard earned taxpayer money that could be better spent equipping science labs.
You can make a start in a program of improving plant science education by giving every kid you know a soda bottle SIP.
Also, read this article titled Cultivating Failure if you haven't already. When published, it gave many school garden fanatics apoplexy. They could hardly breathe they were so "horrified". Perish the thought that anyone would dare have a different point of view.
Making soda bottle SIPs is not difficult but you might need some help to get a science lab SIP program going at your school. Please call on me. I will be happy to help.
The new initiative matches educators and science professionals for collaborative projects
The U.S. is lagging in science and math education—on a 2006 international test, American teens scored below the average for developed nations in both scientific and mathematical literacy. But the U.S. has traditionally been a tech haven, bestowing on the world the iPod, Microsoft Word and Google (not to mention the predecessor to the Internet itself). So it is fitting that someone would create a tech-based solution to try to close the education gap, an American approach to an American problem.
That initiative is National Lab Day, a Web-based endeavor that matches teachers with scientists, engineers and others who use science and math in their professions. Educators design projects on the National Lab Day Web site, outlining the kind of expertise they need, and the system matches them to scientists who have volunteered their services. National Lab Day carries a stamp of approval from the Obama administration, which has promoted and supported the program from its launch in November.
Whereas May 12 is the official National Lab Day, "the day itself is really just a catalytic event," says entrepreneur Jack Hidary, chairperson of National Lab Day, who has helped build several tech ventures based on similar matching engines. Indeed, many of the projects are already under way and others awaiting fulfillment on the Web site stretch for weeks or months into the future. Hidary adds that the initiative's planners envision it as a five-year campaign, with an annual recognition day to draw attention to the program.