Category: Green Schoolyards; Sustainable Design; Green Building
Nature to Neighborhood Studio
The Nature to Neighborhood Studio is a 1500 square foot, off-grid, solar powered structure that was built on an existing slab at the rear of the campus where a house once stood. Initial models were hand-drawn and interpreted in 3-D models created by students before the final design was achieved. Construction complete May 2018
Category: Green Schoolyards; Nature Play; STEM; Student Design
Public-private partnerships and grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife, the City of Austin, and the District resulted in a Nature Playground called, “The Grove.” The design came from a 9-week “enrichment cluster” where 4th and 5th grade students worked with a team of landscape architects to create professional-grade designs. Students presented to risk management personnel, teachers, and landscape architects and a final design was created by the landscape architects.
One of the features in the design was a large rain garden that uses an existing rainwater runoff pattern from the campus down into the Bull Creek Watershed. Third grade students selected native plants and planted them in the rain garden, taking over stewardship of the space.
In 2018-2019 school year an “SLC Program” was transferred to the campus consisting of approximately 25 students on the autism spectrum, their teachers and support staff, and parents/caregivers who are not all zoned for the campus. A new grant team was developed to welcome these students to the campus with appropriate support systems including additional outdoor classroom space, a “fort” that provides a retreat and relief during moments of over-stimulation, sensory play elements, natural-element defined boundaries, and other supports that include vestibular, compression, heavy-work, and proprioceptive elements.
CATEGORY: GREEN SCHOOLYARDS; ECOLOGY; HYDROGEOLOGY; WATERSHEDS; STEM; STUDENT DESIGN
Water Harvesting for Wildlife
Using a District “Partners in Education” grant and the support of a parent (structural engineer) and Scientist in Residence Fellow from the University of Texas, in 2013, math and science instruction were taught through the lens of “water” and “triangles.”
Students designed and tested models for a water-harvesting structure that would relieve the stress on the school’s water system, the human-made ponds, and provide cleaner, rainwater replenishment for the plants and animals that relied on them for their survival and success.
CATEGORY: GREEN SCHOOLYARDS; ECOLOGY; PHENOLOGY; EROSION PREVENTION; LIVING LABORATORIES; BOTANY; POLLINATOR ECOSERVICES; STUDENT DESIGN
Adjacent to the edible gardens and just outside from The Hive (functional teaching kitchen) is an erosion prevention measure designed to function as a living laboratory and pollinator garden.
In 2016-2017, I was paired with a PhD candidate from the Jha Lab (Integrative Biology) and we worked with our students to better connect them with phenological relationships, the idea of eco-services, and the importance of biodiversity.
CATEGORY: GREEN SCHOOLYARDS; ECOLOGY; FOODWAYS; FOOD SYSTEMS; HUMAN HEALTH; LIFE CYCLES; SUSTAINABILITY; FARM TO TABLE
The Teaching Kitchen
Adjacent to the edible gardens and pollinator garden is “The Hive,” a functional teaching kitchen.
The space is heavily used for a variety of reasons, but the uniting theme for the 30(ish) languages on the campus is the opportunity to create and share cultural connections through culinary experiences.