Bringing STEM to the Garden: Enriching Students Learning with STEM Activities

By Amanda Boyarshinov

All Subjects
Gardening STEM

Using a garden to enrich student learning helps make science, technology, engineering, and math -STEM- real!  Children receive great content information and academic practice when they read articles about science topics and do math problems, but give your child the extra edge by providing them with opportunities to physically apply what they have learned about in the classroom to their life.

Summer is the perfect time to start a backyard garden with your child and integrate a little STEM into your child’s after-school activities. Gardening with kids is a fun way to get kids thinking critically and applying their academic knowledge. A garden of any size can help reinforce a child’s understanding of how food grows, environments, life cycles, and weather. With just a little bit of space, time, and effort, gardening can teach the life skills of patience and responsibility. A garden connects children to nature.  It can also provide children with multiple opportunities to practice and enrich academic concepts. Extend students’ academic learning this week with three easy STEM activities in the garden.

  1. Record Data: Plant Growth

Materials Needed:

  • Seeds (green beans or radishes are recommended)
  • Ruler
  • Science journal
  • Pencil

Directions: Plant a seed.  Water it daily and make observations as it grows. Keep a record of the growth in a science journal. The journal can be a notebook or pieces of paper stapled together. Include the numbers, units of measurement and dates the measurements were taken.  Measure the growth of the plant with a ruler.  Include notations of size in comparison to other plants growing nearby. A sketch showing the number of leaves may also serve as a way to record data in a science journal.

  1. Make Predictions: Rainfall Matters

Materials Needed:

  • Weather app or website
  • Watering can
  • Garden area

Directions: Use a weather app or website to view upcoming weather predictions for the upcoming 3 days. Pay close attention to the rainfall percentages.  Discuss the need for watering your garden based on the information provided. If there are low probabilities of rain, head outside and water your garden area immediately. This will help connect online research with real-life application.

  1. Design an Object that Can Solve a Problem

Materials Needed:

  • Unused paint sticks, thin wood strips, plastic piping or sticks.
  • String, twine, tape or thread.
  • Bird netting, tool fabric, or recyclables such as orange bags or strawberry containers.

Directions: Small animals are a problem for many gardeners.  Squirrels and birds may eat blueberries from the bushes as soon as they begin to turn blue.  Dogs may eat green beans right off the plants. Choose a plant in the garden that is susceptible to pests. Encourage your child to design an object to keep the plants safe from pets.  Try to use re-usable materials when possible. Test out the usefulness of this newly designed object.  Discuss what worked and what didn’t. Re-design and create if needed.

Are you hoping to bring even more STEM into your child’s life every day?  Consider enrolling them in one of Sylvan’s STEM programs: Robotics, Coding, Engineering and Math.