Planting the Seed for Science Education in the Virgin Islands
This April WTJX is leveraging its unique natural environment in the US Virgin Islands to engage local children and families in STEM-themed activities as part of PBS KIDS' Explore the Outdoors initiative.
On St. Thomas, and building on many of the biotechnology themes featured in WILD KRATTS, WTJX’s Metamorphosis Project engaged students at Joseph Gomez Elementary School in studying the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Caterpillars and food were installed in the classroom for students to see the metamorphosis of the local frangipani caterpillar over a two-week period. WTJX worked via technology infusion to capture this process on film so that the students can share the findings with other classrooms and schools. To complement the in-class activity, students also attended a field trip to the Butterfly Garden Park to learn about metamorphosis and to see the various stages of a variety of butterflies. Students were then taken to St. Thomas Radiology to observe the MRI imaging of the frangipani moth pupa. The Metamorphosis Project allowed students to explore animal activity and development in a habitat. Perhaps most importantly, it most likely enabled students to gain a better understanding of the school curriculum related to metamorphosis. Test scores and grades are expected soon to confirm this.
Similarly, on St. Croix and St. John, WTJX’s Seedling Project engaged students in planting a community box garden in collaboration with the Department of Human Services Preschool Division and the Department of Agriculture. Kids had a blast planting 800 seedlings, each child with his/her very own pair of gardening gloves. Seedlings included basil, lettuce, arugula, spinach, and some tomato plants at Head Start locations. Produce harvested from the garden will be used to engage students in preparing meals. The Seedling Project helped children learn how science, the earth, micro-organisms and plant life co-exist, as well as tied into PBS KIDS and STEM curricula related to food groups, botany, agriculture and gardening techniques. Some students got a very real lesson in plant and animal life co-existence, as they had to erect barriers and fences to protect the plants from being eaten by local iguanas. The project also helped increase student participation at Head Start locations, and their ability to recognize various fruits and vegetables.
The Metamorphosis and Seedling Projects are two tangible ways WTJX is extending the STEM education mission and impact of PBS KIDS beyond broadcast to engage local families and a diverse group of community partners across the three main US Virgin Islands.
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