March Awardee: Dickson Elementary Outdoor Art Garden

The Dickson Elementary Outdoor Art Garden won our March 2012 award. The project will provide a safe and creative outside environment for kids to express, explore, and play. The foundation’s $1,000 grant will support purchasing classroom supplies and furnishings for the garden.

“The Art Garden will be an outdoor classroom facility that will allow our students to think outside of the box. It is a way to teach the students that learning does not have to take place within four walls,” said Beth Wagner, art educator, Dickson Elementary.

The garden is a space where students will learn, grow and become familiar with nature. Once the project is complete, children will be able to plant, grow, and conduct science experiments. The garden will provide a space for lessons that are too difficult to conduct inside a classroom. For example, each year the second grade students hatch butterflies that eventually need to be released. The outdoor garden is the perfect place for that to happen

Another goal of the garden is to have each child who attends Dickson Elementary work on the garden in some way. This is a way to teach the students that working in and around their community and school can create a sense of pride and ownership. When complete, the garden will serve more than 300 hundred students in grades pre-K through 6. All of the students attend Dickson Elementary in Swissvale within the Woodland Hills school district, just east of Pittsburgh.

Early May update: Here’s local coverage of the project in process: http://foresthills-regentsquare.patch.com/articles/outdoor-classroom-inspires-young-minds-in-swissvale

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