Students Build Greenhouses to Help Community

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COLUMBIA - Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School 5th graders built greenhouses Thursday and Friday to grow healthy food for the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Students plan to plant Rainbow Chard, a leafy green lettuce full of nutrients, in three different greenhouses. 

The project is part of a partnership between the University of Missouri and Columbia Public School District, called "ShowMe Nature GK12." MU graduate student James Franklin is the resident scientist at Grant Elementary and assists with teaching the 5th grade classes about plants. Franklin helped students write a grant to fund the building of the greenhouses. "ShowMe Nature GK12" awarded the students with a thousand dollar grant. "Their proposal asked for money to build the greenhouses and do some experiments on how best to grow plants so they could help out the food bank," said Candace Galen, faculty director of the ShowMe Nature program. "We decided to support their project because it is a great way to help out and learn some valuable science lessons in the process." 

5th grade teacher John Nies said the project incorporates many different aspects of the students' science learning. "We've studied experimental design, so we will use the greenhouses to perform experiments with the plants," said Nies. "We've studied simple machines, so the students will be building the greenhouses using simple machines. We've also studied the planet Earth, water cycles and the atmosphere. All those ideas will be incorporated in the greenhouse learning as well."

After studying the plants, students will donate the Rainbow Chard to the food bank. The students will also present their findings at an MU science symposium on April 27.