LAKEWOOD RANCH -- About 700 students filed into the small courtyard at McNeal Elementary School on Thursday morning for the opening of a new science lab, greenhouse and garden.
The school will use the lab, housed in a portable, and garden to introduce students to science, technology, engineering and math classes, faculty and administrators say. The greenhouse, which will soon house a variety of plants, cost an estimated $25,000 and was donated to the school by Falkner Farms, which also provided all of the supplies, Assistant Principal Katherine Price said.
John and Scott Falkner were on hand for the short ceremony during which families and teachers were thanked for their participation.
Students have been enthusiastic about the prospect of growing tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers, teachers say.
“It’s exciting for us teachers to hear: ‘When can we eat those vegetables,’ ” fourth-grade teacher Jeannine Germer said.
“It’s important to plant that seed at an early age,” Price said about preparing students for science, technology, engineering and math classes. “It allows the students that much more time to advance.”
Principal Norma Scott said exposing students to more STEM-oriented lab and class work, “gets them into the global economy.”
STEM work provides wonderful vocabulary-building skills, Scott said, and the garden opens children’s minds for what is needed to grown and flourish.
“You can read it in a book, but you won’t fully understand until you can smell it and see it,” Scott said.
John Falkner of Falkner Farms put it differently.
“This is an agricultural community and the kids need to know how things are grown.”