Dons blog #5 project based learning
I facilitate NMIT’s Level 3 Horticulture Programme in Blenheim. Over the last 12 months or so we have changed the way the course is delivered. Instead of the somewhat tedious unit standard approach, we have adopted project based learning. Project based learning is all about student centered learning that is teaching students what they want to learn (with a bit of guidance).
To give you an example. As part of their assessment requirements, students have to germinate from seed, 30 vegetables, 30 flowers, 30 herbs and 15 native plants. The native plant seeds were gathered from a walk around our beautiful campus. For the rest, I gave them a commercial seed catalogue, and explained they needed to choose seeds that could be planted at this time of the year. I then provided 4 methods of sowing these seeds – rock wool, jiffy pots, jiffy pellets and open punnet sowing. My technique was then to wander off and let them sort out how they were going to do it. The ensuing team work as they helped one another and the subsequent discussion as they compared germination techniques was incredible. The students loved it, and learnt a great deal. And the photos show some of the results.
This is the exact approach we plan to take with the planned Wellness Pacific Horticultural, Nutritional and Holistic Living pilot programme. By introducing these topics to Marlborough secondary school students, then facilitating their visit to Tonga to interact with Primary School kids there, as teenage horticultural ambassadors, the Wellness Pacific vision is that through education changes towards a healthier life style will occur, so that in the long run the current 80 percent of deaths in Pacific countries that can be attributable to non-communicable diseases will decrease. Our plan is our kids to deliver a very much modified course to the Tongan kids, but by completing the course we have planned, these teenage horticultural ambassadors will know the why behind the how and so have the confidence to field those out of left field questions all student at some stage throw at teachers.
However, this process can’t start until we have the appropriate funding in place. If you can help us, or know any strings that you can pull on our behalf, please let us know.
Photo 1: The four seed germination options student were given: (from top left clockwise) jiffy pots, rock wool, open sowing, jiffy pellets ( before and after soaking)
Photo2: Results after 10 days on the heat bed
Photo 3 : Another students work