Edward Little Goes Green(house)

By Ashley Bowden, ’14

Students in Kim Finnerty's Chemistry Through Agriculture class plant seedlings in the new greenhouse.

Students in Kim Finnerty’s Chemistry Through Agriculture class plant seedlings in the new greenhouse.

In the past year, Edward Little High School has added a unique, interactive hands on class to the schedule. Science teacher Kim Finnerty’s Chemistry through Agriculture class built and is now running a brand new greenhouse.

“The greenhouse is part of the agriculture in the classroom grant that I wrote,” Finnerty said. “I wrote the grant because I believe agriculture is a way I can engage students in the subject of chemistry. The agriculture students are using it to germinate seeds. These seeds will become vegetable and flower plants that will then be given to area schools and non-profit organizations for their raised bed gardens.”

The structure, which is technically a hoop house, is located by the practice field and bus circle. The building of the greenhouse required a lot of help. “The structure was donated by the Lewiston Publics Work and the Auburn School Department maintenance staff built it. The LRTC electrician students wired it for electricity,” Finnerty said.

The green house took a lot of work, but it paid off and is engaging students in hands on activities. “The green house gives me the ability to have what I call a living classroom,” Finnerty said. “It gives me the space and resources I need to give students a hands-on learning environment year round.”

The students in the class are planning to do a seedling fundraiser in order to help pay for supplies next year. The class also hopes to help the school community as a whole. “The future plan is to have vegetables growing year round in the greenhouse so that the cafeteria can serve fresh produce from our greenhouse,” Finnerty said.

With such a hands-on class, grading has been a new challenge. “I use traditional methods of assessment for chemistry standards that we cover,” Finnerty said. “During times when we are planting, I grade students on what we call “quality control.” I have created a rubric that students grade themselves on and I use to grade them.  The rubric includes attitude, focus on work, attendance, working with others, and contribution categories.”

Finnerty had submitted a Seeds of Change grant early this year as well. Seeds of Change is an online retailer that sells gardening tools and organic seeds. The grant went through two stages. During April, the grant faced a popular vote. The grant received enough votes online to make it into the top 50. Only the top 17 were chosen for the grant in the end, though, and Finnerty’s proposal was not selected.

Now, Finnerty is looking for new funding for the greenhouse. “I am continuously writing grants,” she said. 

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