GigaPan technology is ideal to employ as part of garden-based learning, in which there is a resurgence internationally. School gardening can be integrated with existing disciplines and standards in the curriculum to provide authentic learning experiences in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) as well as English Language Arts and other subjects. School gardening also can increase community involvement in schools and help foster a land ethic and environmental stewardship, which are critical to constraining habitat destruction and climate change.
In year 2011, the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University (WVU) partnered with WVU-Monongalia County Extension Services and North Elementary School to initiate a garden-based learning program at the school. Our school garden now includes 35 raised beds, a high tunnel to extend the growing season, flora to attract pollinators and birds, and project-based curricula ( VanHorn et al.,2015). Through support from the Benedum Foundation in year 2013 (see Integrating STEM), we initiated the use of GigaPan to help North Elementary School students gain more from garden-based learning and to showcase to a wider community our gardening endeavor. North Elementary School teachers as well as preservice teachers at West Virginia University have also benefited from this endeavor by gaining technology skills and developing curriculum units and other teaching applications, which are housed within GigaPan School Dialogues and published in journals such as Science and Children (e.g., Thorn et al., 2017).
GigaPan images and the research and dialogue that surrounds their use can facilitate learning in almost any discipline. In this issue of GigaPan Magazine, we focus on how GigaPan images of school gardens can be used to teach science that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013). We emphasize principally the connections to the three dimensions--science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts--that form the foundations of the NGSS performance expectations (see also National Science Teachers Association for accessing the NGSS by topic and quicklinks to more information). The NGSS have been adopted by several states, including West Virginia, as the benchmark for science literacy for high school graduates and to help prepare students for post-secondary education in science, engineering, and technology.
Please visit the Stories and Background sections to see how we are utilizing GigaPan images of the North Elementary School garden to provide learning experiences tied to the NGSS for elementary teachers and students and their parents. Zoom in: You will be surprised by what you discover in our garden!
Jim Rye is professor emeritus in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at West Virginia University (WVU), Morgantown, WV. His emphasis is science education, and for the past seven years he has focused on developing a garden-based learning program at North Elementary School. North provides practicum experiences to preservice teachers who attend WVU. .
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