I sat down and explained my dilemmas about my ImagineIT project to my colleagues and students. They had a lot of great suggestions for me. Reflecting on the feedback and suggestions from colleagues and students helped me to see things from both the student’s point of view as well as a teacher’s point of view. I want this project to have a major impact on my students so pulling them into problematizing the project gave them a sense of ownership and pride with the project. I have decided to combine some of both group’s ideas.
What surprised me more was the ideas that students came up with. They wanted the community to still be able to see the beauty of the crops but also stressed that they wanted to make sure that everyone got a chance to reap the harvest of the garden so they wanted to give back by distributing the goods. I was very proud of this idea that came from my students. Each focus group gave me ideas of including the community in the process and this was my goal to bring the community together but have my students learn about science in the natural world through social change in the process.
So much has happened with my ImagineIt project. My students were super excited after watching my opening video asking for their help. They saw the need for a community peace garden that would help solve the problem of them living in a food desert and also a way to improve the community by creating a more positive bond between community members while beautifying the neighborhood. My students talked and worked in groups to research what foods would be best to place in the garden as well as designed other features to place in the garden where the community could sit down in the garden just to have some peace of mind. My students shared their ideas with the community by showing and explaining their prototypes of their garden design as well as sharing a video proposal with the community members. The community members that were invited were the Alderman, police department, fire department, community activists, family and friends, the Museum of Science and Industry, MSU, and Community Kitchen. I was so proud of how much the students learned through this process and also how passionate they were when they explained their ideas to the community. The community members that came to the event were also very open to help with the garden and gave my students positive feedback and suggestions. I am still reaching out to the alderman trying to secure a lot in the neighborhood for the garden which is the most important step. I have also spoken with a community activist in the neighborhood who is also doing similar things with gardens with our sister high school Linbloom so she is willing help us through this process. I do not want the students to lose the momentum that they have right now so I have kept their prototypes as a reminder of what is to come. The next step is for my students to look at all prototypes, think about the suggestions that the community members shared with them and combine all of their ideas to create one prototype instead of five prototypes. I have also ran into another dilemma, my class size has now doubled so I want to make sure that all students have a voice in the community garden so that they are all empowered. It is my hope to have the garden ready for the spring if everything goes well. I will keep you all updated on our progress.