Work-Based Learning

May 17, 2016 | Conservation, Crew

Mowtes and Hassan, Winooski High School students, learn how to install electric fencing for livestock on the Farm at VYCC.
Mowtes and Hassan, Winooski High School students, learn how to install electric fencing for livestock on the Farm at VYCC.

A crew of Winooski High School students is working after school in the fields and classroom. Science is alive and learning is active. To earn a science credit, each student is completing a project of their choice. Abdi S. is measuring growth rates of pepper plants in controlled versus uncontrolled environments; Alex is studying the pollination patterns of bees; Abdi Y. is investigating animal ethics and the effects of factory farming.

Recent classroom time was spent in Winooski High School’s teaching kitchen. VYCC AmeriCorps VISTA Meghan Young and WHS teacher Dave McNally engaged the students in a variety of discussions while teaching these young adults new cooking skills.

Mr. McNally worked with Mowtes and Abdi to prepare potatoes and beets. As they worked, he asked them to look at the vegetables and consider how they grow.

He asked, “When do you think these were harvested?” The answer was not hard for these bright students to conjure, but there was an unmistakable look of realization on their faces: it was clear that seasonality and the ability to store root vegetables through the winter was a new and interesting concept for these teens.

Shortly thereafter, students sat down to enjoy what they had prepared. Mr. McNally led a discussion about the nutrients each item on the table provided. Rather than leaning over a textbook, students engaged all five senses as they explored the importance of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Meanwhile, Mayange started his project: recording the life cycle of pinto beans. He reports, “After three days, the one outside grew its hook and then its stem. The indoor [control] just got its hook.” This is a surprising initial result. “I’m looking at how plants grow differently under different conditions, and which way is faster.” Mayange chose pinto beans because his mom cooks with them frequently, and she grows them in their garden at home. He will record the growth of both plants through the end of the semester.