Math in the Garden (The Atlantic)
For schools that can afford it, a backyard garden provides community benefits and a new take on learning.
By Nadra Nittle, The Atlantic, November 23, 2015
As class got under way on a recent fall morning, the first-graders Jessica Brimley teaches at Los Cerritos Elementary in Long Beach, California, still hadn’t mastered the concept of estimation. When Brimley told the children they’d be using the technique, a boy’s hand shot up to ask for a definition.
But Brimley wasn’t just going to give him the answer or point him to a dictionary. Instead, she used nature to demonstrate; after all, her classroom isn’t indoors, but in the school’s 48,000 square-foot garden, an approach teachers at Los Cerritos and elsewhere are using more and more to engage students.
To help the students understand estimation, Brimley held up a ruler, explaining how some farmers use the the measuring tool to plant precise rows.
“They have beautiful gardens,” she said, “but very dirty rulers.”