Some students in Meridian are creating a farmers market and learning about recycling to help their community while incorporating academics.
T.J. Harris Upper and Lower Elementary Schools are offering project-based learning, a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in the real world and participating in meaningful projects on a personal level.
“In the end, there is going to be a farmers market and we will invite the community,” said Jeffery Blackmon, principal of T.J. Harris Upper Elementary school. .
Blackmon said the projects at both schools are student-driven and use skills in math, science, reading and math with an emphasis on applying those skills.
“It's one thing to work math problems out, but it's another thing to apply what you are learning,” he said.
The farmers market starts with a garden, where each classroom will have a plot to grow strawberries, cabbage or pumpkins. Students from Ross Collins Career and Technical Education Center are building the boxes for the garden, Blackmon said .
The students at T.J. Harris will be responsible to research, grow, harvest, sell and cook the plants.
Once the plants are grown, the school will open a farmers market for the community. Students can also take home some of the produce as well, Blackmon said.
Karmaria Roberts, 9, used her math skills to work on the garden.
“We learned centimeters and how to measure boxes,” Roberts said.
Meanwhile, at Lower Harris, Robin Salisbury’s second-grade students class are learning about recycling.
“The general idea is to give our students a problem," Salisbury said. "Our problem is trash."
Salisbury said she wants her students to figure out the solutions to the problem without her help.
“They already have the idea, they just have to be pushed on how to solve it,” she said.
Kelly McVay, the school's principal, echoed that idea, noting that the hardest part for the teacher is not helping the students.
Some ideas the students have come up with include installing recycling bins at the school, contacting city officials and using trash to create race cars.
Student Jeremy Hampton, 8, said he liked learning about recycling in class.
“We don’t want our animals or pets to get hurt from aluminum cans,” he said.
Both principals hope that project-based learning will continue for years and the students will use the skills they learn to serve their community.
“It’s such a large project that we have to continue it,” Blackmon said. “We can’t do it this year and not do it again. We've invested much time and money, so we have to keep it going."