What we do
OUTDOOR SCIENCE ALLIANCE AT THE NYACK CENTER AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
In 2017, we launched its partnership with the Nyack Center’s After School Program. Our contribution is focused on two core programs, "The Learning Garden" for 3rd through 7th grade and the Hudson River Estuary Exploration for Kindergarten through 2nd grade.
PART 1: The Learning Garden (Grades 3-7)
The Learning Garden includes studies of garden soil, seeds, plant succession, and cultivation. Students learn about sharing seeds and plant native trees in our local park for Arbor Day. The program includes:
Spring Awakening and Pea Sowing:
The beginning of Spring marks the time when things start growing. To wake up The Nyack Center’s garden, kids perform essential chores including clean-up, compost amendments, and establishing a planting and harvest schedule. Since peas can be sown as soon as the ground is thawed enough to work the soil, we plant pea seeds together, and learn about how peas act as nitrogen fixers in the soil—a vital role in the cycle of life.
Succession and Early Planting
Succession planting makes efficient use of a garden’s resources by growing one or more crops at different times throughout the growing season. Kids sow early seeds for succession crops —such as beets or radishes, which can be harvested within 30 days and repeatedly resown for multiple quick harvests throughout the season— as well as early crops, such as broccoli, carrots, kale and lettuce. That means that students are be able to reap some of what they sow before the school year ends.
Some of the tastiest crops ripen after school ends! So the young gardeners plant vegetables that they can stop by and harvest throughout the summer. They plant annual seedlings, provided by Rockland Farm Alliance and Upper Nyack Elementary School, in the prepared garden spaces. Hopefully, we’ll have garlic scapes, pea leaves, wild edibles, and some returning kale to snack on as we work. This workshop gives students a sense of planting and harvesting their own food.
What's in our Soil?
Healthy soil is essential for a healthy garden. What makes soil healthy or not? The children identify the different “ingredients” that make up soil, and compare soil samples from the garden with other locations using magnifiers and high-powered microscopes.
Art and science meet in this class, where the kids explore the inner secrets of seeds— from common and unusual fruits— through high-powered microscopes. They sketch what they see and take notes as part of the scientific exploration.
A trip to the Nyack Library's Seed Bank shows kids how seed-sharing can bring communities together and preserve the diversity and heritage of the food we grow. Students get to choose some seeds and bring them back to the center to sow.
Arbor Day Tree Planting
This Arbor Day, the students will plant two native trees in Memorial Park and learn how trees provide value to our community. They will care for—and connect with—the trees through activities such as sign making, watering and mulching.
PART 2: Hudson River Estuary Exploration (Grades K-2)
In this program, students engage in hands on activities that give insight about the river around us. The program includes Earth BEAT, River seining, Citizen Science Eel Project, River Art and Geology. (descriptions to come)