Manzo Elementary School Reconciles with Ecology
In Tucson, Arizona, Manzo Elementary School is achieving notable success for designing a curriculum around reconciliation ecology. Reconciliation ecology is the science of inventing and establishing new habitats to conserve species diversity in places people occupy. At Manzo Elementary, students participate in hands-on activities that explore horticulture and reconciliation ecology. The results of these activities produce an added aesthetic charm to the school and neighboring community while simultaneously helping the surrounding environment and native species.
Teachers and students at Manzo Elementary have successfully completed a number of projects including transforming a vacant lot into a native Sonoran Desert Biome, installing a 4000-gallon rainwater harvesting system to support landscaping, creating a student operated native plant micro-nursery, establishing an after-school gardening club, building a Father Kino Heritage Fruit Tree Orchard and integrating ecology and school gardening curricula school-wide. Manzo Elementary teachers continue to produce lesson plans that incorporate ecology and school gardening into core subjects, including math, science and reading. In kindergarten, students take a first look at roots and plants and are introduced to native Arizona fish. First grade concepts include an introduction to the water cycle, which are then built upon in third grade where students discover water properties, erosion and conservation. Second graders learn what constitutes a desert and how to live in their local desert habitat. Finally, in fourth and fifth grade, students start experimenting with water harvesting and measure water levels while being introduced to Tucson's water story and completing a water cycle workbook.
In addition to core subjects, education specialists are also bringing the environment into their classrooms. One visual arts instructor encourages habitat observation by tailoring projects to expand native plant and wildlife knowledge while promoting the use of recycled materials to create art. The ecology enrichment specialist brings in outside expertise and runs a lab that allows students to explore themes in ecology. One physical education instructor doubles as a ranger teacher, facilitating habitat creation and rainwater harvesting workshops that physically involve students in plant installation. And, the technology resource instructor helps engage students in researching habitat creation and monitors a student created website to document habitat projects.
Currently, Manzo Elementary is working on completing a desert tortoise habitat and creating a First Bloom cultural heritage vegetable garden with assistance from the National Park Service. To learn more about Manzo Elementary School and current projects, check out their school website at http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/Manzo/ or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reconciliation-Ecology-at-Manzo-Elementary/125141114170146.
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