Mini-Grant Application for School Year 2017-2018

Submitted by: Elizabeth Joiner Email: Grade Level: 1st and 2nd gra Subject: Science, Technology, Math, Eng
Co-Applicant:Michael Fiorito Email: fioritom@osceola.k12.fl.usGrade level: 2nd grade. Subject: All elementary subjects.

School: Celebration K-8 School Type: Public Grade Levels:K-8 County:Osceola

Approx. Enrollment: 1 Number of teachers:75

School Address:

Celebration, Florida 34747

Phone: 407-566-2300 Principal:Kimberly Manion Email:

Project Title: Agro-Science Consultants, Inc.
Project Dates: 01/08/2018-05/24/2018 Grade Levels:

Focus Area(s) :Science - Technology - Environmental Sustainability - Economics

The “Agro-Science Consultants, Inc.” project will spark investigative mindsets by empowering first and second grade students to become real-life agro-science consultants. Local farmer Gary Parke will come to consult with the students as he is faced with a dilemma: pursuing traditional farming or switching to a hydroponic farm. Students will design and conduct an inquiry-based scientific experiment to test claims that the soil-less hydroponic technology can produce more food than traditional agricultural methods, while using less land and water. Throughout this long-term, hands-on investigation, students will work on optimizing variables (soil composition, light, and moisture levels), to try and “beat” the yield of a hydroponic Tower Garden. This engaging and problem-solving challenge will foster interdisciplinary learning by integrating science, math, written/oral language, social studies and art. Students will gain critical skills, such as teamwork, communication and leadership, while becoming earth-conscious citizens. The project will culminate in a final consulting event in which students will present their conclusions to farmer Gary (who did make the transition from traditional to hydroponic farming,) as well as to a panel of experts, including University of Florida Extension Office (UF/IFAS) Master Gardeners, and Celebration Garden Club community members. Students will also serve the produce to the rest of the student body through educational taste tests in the cafeteria, with the support of cafeteria manager Kim Abaloz.


How is your project innovative?   (25 points)
“Agro-Science Consultants, Inc.” is a pioneering teaching initiative because it will actively engage students in a professional setting by incorporating industry-disruptive modern technology, interdisciplinary and multi-grade education, as well as community engagement. To prepare a recommendation for farmer Gary, the budding consultants will devise a science experiment aimed at comparing the yield of hydroponic vs. traditional growing methods. Students will be in charge of installing, planting, maintaining and harvesting a hydroponic Tower Garden, and four soil-based raised garden beds. Students will plant six seed groups (basil, parsley, spinach, lettuce, red chard and Bok Choy) in each of the five growing systems. While keeping raised bed #1 as a control group, they will test variables on raised beds #2, 3 and 4, to try and increase the production yield (i.e. enriched soil composition, increased soil moisture, full sun exposure.) Students will collect data at routine intervals through plant measurement, soil pH, fertility, and moisture level, as well as light intensity and temperature. Students will use the classroom microscope to examine differences in grown plants at cellular level. After tracing a graph to illustrate plant growth for each of the five systems, students will interpret their observations, construct explanations and reflect on real-world implications. Students will also design botanical illustrations using specimens from the gardens with the guidance of Art teacher Cindy Bohn.

How will it fit into your curriculum (include standards)? (10 points)
This ongoing interdisciplinary project will allow students to strengthen their understanding of common core standards through a holistic and practical educational approach. Students will acquire a deeper, long-lasting understanding of grade-level standards as they work together on a real-life problem that they are responsible for solving. As students complete the various assignments of the scientific experiment described in the above questions, they will meet and master the following standards in technology, math, science, social studies, and English language (standards listed here for 2nd grade): Measurement of plant specimens: MAFS.2.MD.1.1 - Measure the length of an object to the nearest inch, foot, centimeter, or meter by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes. Comparison between hydroponically and traditionally-grown specimens: MAFS.2.MD.1.4 - Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit. Graph created to trace specimen growth: MAFS.2.MD.4.10 - Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in a bar graph. Observation of specimen growth: SC.2.L.16.1 - Observe and describe major stages in the life cycles of plants and animals, including beans and butterflies. Teamwork to draw conclusions from the specimen observations: SC.2.N.1.1 - Raise questions about the natural world, investigate them in teams through free exploration and systematic observations, and generate appropriate explanations based on those explorations. Utilization of the various technological tools: SC.K2.CS-CC.1.3 - Collaborate and cooperate with peers, teachers, and others using technology to solve problems. Understanding of the economics of farming: SS.2.E.1.1 - Recognize that people make choices because of limited resources. Writing observations, and scientific reports on iPad: LAFS.2.W.2.6 - With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. Preparation of the final consulting presentation and recommendation: LAFS.2.SL.2.4 - Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

How will it encourage long-lasting change in your classroom, school or community? (20 points)
The impact on students will be tremendous. By engaging in an inquiry-based scientific process using tangible technology and specimens, students will develop critical thinking and sharpen their investigative mindset. They will gain proficiency in the five scientific skills: evaluate, engage, explore, explain, extend. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the activities, students will further gain a deeper command of transversal common core subjects. Students will also have the unique chance to acquire workplace-readiness skills at a young age, since the project will involve emulating the behavior of adult scientific consultants. By working in teams, students will engage in collaborative communication, which will promote interpersonal, teamwork and leadership skills. They will also develop organizational skills by assigning responsibilities and prioritizing tasks. Another expected outcome is a passion for learning. This hands-on, multisensory, indoor/outdoor experience will stimulate and motivate students. As they take pride in caring for the growing systems and scientific tools, students will be more engaged and eager to learn. They will grow into responsible citizens who care about conserving natural resources and preserving a sustainable environment. The project will have a positive rippling effect on the community. Parents will be more likely to engage in classroom volunteering, as they will be invited to assist with the growing systems upkeep and data collection. The project will foster a stronger connection between the school and community partners (Parke Family Hydro Farm, Celebration Garden Club, and UF/IFAS.) Finally, the project will positively impact 300+ more students via the educational taste tests.

How will technology be utilized?  (20 points)
The grant will fund the necessary technological equipment to complete the project. A hydroponic Tower Garden growing system will allow students to grow up to 28 edible plants through a nutrient-infused water dripping technology. Three packs each of soil-less rock wool growing medium and hydroponic mineral blend nutrient solution will be purchased to plant and feed produce in the Tower Garden. Through funding from the Florida Farm Bureau, four circular fabric raised beds (28 cu. ft. in total), 15 bags of garden soil/peat moss, and 7 bags of vegetable-based compost, will be purchased to allow students to build the four differentiated soil-based growing systems. Three packs each of the six selected seed varieties will be used to grow the specimens. To record production parameters in the soil-based growing systems, students will utilize the following Nasco Science digital tools: a soil moisture meter, a soil thermometer, a soil fertility meter, and a light intensity meter. Finally, students will fully capitalize on 32GB Apple iPads to create annotated and dated pictures of specimens with the “Field Notes” app, record data and chart graphs with the “Numbers” app, and create flowcharts with the “Explain Everything” app. The iPads will further be used as digital portfolios to save the botanical illustrations created in the art center and publish the class findings on a dedicated social media page. The classrooms already owns a digital microscope, a scientific scale, and the required measuring tools.

What evidence will you collect to show student gain?   (10 points)
The educators involved in the project are strongly committed to make it a success. We will provide students with continuous guidance throughout the scientific investigation process, and will ensure that the consulting mission is brought to a successful completion. Below is a description of the main projected outcomes and respective evaluation methods: 1 - Timely project implementation: Teachers will ensure that the growing systems are promptly and properly installed and maintained. 2 - Student mastery of educational contents: Through one-on-one guidance, teachers will verify that students fully assimilate the relevant academic contents. Overall student test scores based on state standards will be monitored on each subject. 3 - Student acquisition of workforce readiness skills: Teachers will observe first-hand the interpersonal, communication and leadership skills that students develop through teamwork. 4 - Student eagerness to learn: Teachers will regularly interview students to weigh their continuous interest in the project, and will assess student motivation during independent and group work. Student referral and attendance data will be monitored. Teachers will seek parent input about student motivation through feedback forms sent in backpacks. 5 - Community engagement: Teachers will assess the increase in parent and community volunteering hours. The panel of community experts will provide feedback to teachers and students after the final consulting event.

How will participants share your project results with the community?  (15 points)
The school will actively communicate the project and its success to the staff, parents, students, and overall community through the following communication channels: - Article in monthly newspaper “Celebration News,” which is distributed to the 11,000+ community residents. - Article in the PTA Newsletter. - Principal’s REMIND text message. - Morning announcement. - Social media (600+ member closed Facebook group), - Dedicated social media page, - School staff meeting, - School Advisory Council meeting, and - School district’s monthly press release. The Celebration K-8 School is a dynamic A-grade school, which serves 1,500 students of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds in The School District of Osceola County, Florida. Our mission is to inspire all learners to reach their highest potential as responsible, productive citizens. The administration makes it a strategic priority to emphasize the importance of sustaining our environment, early in the students’ lives. Students are also empowered to act as positive agents of change through student-led, service-oriented initiatives.


Service/ Item Description Cost
(x1) Hydroponic Tower Garden, Indoor Bundle by Juice+ (incl. Tower Garden, Support Cage, Extension K $1,110.95
(x3) Hydroponic Growing Media (pack of 98) (x2) Net Pots (pack of 30) (x3) Mineral Blend (2 gal.) $322.90
(x3) iPad Wi-Fi 32GB (with Apple Care and protective case) $1,440.00
(x2 each) Digital Soil Moisture Meter, Digital Soil Thermometer, Soil Fertility Meter, Light Intensi $123.20
(x4) Fabric Raised Bed, 7 cu. ft. (x14) HARVEST Organics Garden Soil, 1.5-cu. ft. (x7) Black Velvet $280.18
Total Cost of Project $3,277.23
If matching funds identified list source: Florida Farm Bureau / Celebration K-8 Parent Teach $280.18
Donated Goods/Services:Materials for classroom activities, Volunteer hour $800.00

I, Elizabeth Joiner, certify that the application is complete and final, AND I verify that I have received permission to apply for these funds from Kimberly Manion,the Principal of Celebration K-8 School and any other individuals required by my school district.