Introduction: Carton to Garden

Our Carton to Garden project is titled The Erwin Owen High School Garden Tree.

We had over 85 students participate in all aspects of the Carton to Garden project. Our School collected 210 cartons total for The Erwin Owen High School Garden Tree. Students led the carton collection, washing the cartons, composting, worm garden turning, filling soil, planting seedlings, watering, transplanting, and green house rotation. They also designed a bulletin board and held a poster contest as well as conceiving the overall concept of The Erwin Owen High School Garden Tree. Students utilized STEM core concepts to design the prototype on the 3D printer, and then took the design to full production, creating a life size metal tree structure during welding class

Step 1:

The inspiration for our Carton to Garden project came from the

book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Erwin Owen High School is located within an all-boys juvenile forestry camp. Sometimes our boys return after a long while and the things they need are given to them just as the tree gave to the boy in the story. Our current students wanted to give in return by creating The Erwin Owen High School Garden Tree.

Camp Erwin Owen, located in Kernville, California, was founded in 1938. This juvenile forestry camp can house 125 youth between the ages of 14 and 18.

Rehabilitation occurs through a multifaceted program consisting of discipline, education, counseling, guidance, work experience, vocational training, athletics and a group living experience. The staff supervise youth working on crews assigned to the Camp’s building maintenance, care of grounds, meal preparation, agriculture, animal husbandry, laundry, and auto shop. Camp’s focus has been a balance of a strong work ethic with a strong academic program.

Step 2:

Our goals were to teach the students eco-consciousness, from the

classroom to the cafeteria, and extend these lessons into the garden itself. Students recognized the importance of composting as one part of the larger issue of waste management. We are empowering students to minimize waste. Lessons provided working knowledge of the principles behind composting and recycling. By teaching students to reuse cartons we help students make a positive impact on the environment. We hope to promote a lifelong love to recycle, reuse and repurpose items around them. Our staff encouraged a positive attitude and the knowledge/skills required to effectively set up and manage an active compost system while also sustaining our garden.

Students have actively engaged in on-campus collaborative efforts with their peers and faculty to increase awareness about environmental responsibility, but also to apply their acquired knowledge. Students involved were impacted by the hands-on learning experience Carton to Garden offered.

Step 3:

In what ways has this project demonstrated the

use of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math education) disciplines and lessons to advance students’ understanding?

Recycling may seem simple on the surface, it takes everything from chemistry to trigonometry to make it happen. Our students incorporated science through various lessons in waste management, composting and recycling. We enhanced our technology skills with the use of 3D printing. 3D printers allowed STEM students to make their ideas tangible. They benefited from a new level of engagement and applied learning. Students created schematics; utilizing a MIG welder to engineer the final product. Students used mathematical practices creating a geometric blue print with precise measurements and angles.

How does your project demonstrate sustainability practices?

Sustainability is a commitment that starts with our staff and students that we have incorporated into our school at various levels. The students helped develop a sustainability plan. To measure our Carton to Garden success we set a goal for carton collection, composting, and planting. The students collected data to measure each goal. Our school began recycling cartons in our cafeteria after each meal as standard practice. Camp Owen incorporated our Carton to Garden project with the students work crew duties. All seedlings are planted in the recycled cartons and placed in the greenhouse. The students monitor and rotate the seedling.

How did you incorporate student Health & Nutrition in this project?

High school students are increasingly in control of the decisions that influence their health and wellness. Recognizing motivators can help students develop healthy eating habits, especially when they learn where food comes from, and became more familiar with fruits and vegetables. Students gained the knowledge and skills to select a diet that supports health and reduces the risk of illness, and learned to identify a variety of foods, and how they are grown and harvested. We identify the connection between foods served in the home with regional food production. The students are rewarded with fresh food straight from the garden.

Step 4:

The Erwin

Owen High School Garden Tree was designed with a natural concept and the students collaborated on designing of a tree structure. They took a stick figure paper design and transformed it into a geometric schematic, with precise measurement and angles for construction purposes. They then utilized 3D technology to create a prototype of our tree design on Tinkercad. Our

The schematic and the prototype then went to our school’s regional occupational welding class to be put into production. Welding students measured, cut, and engineered the final product using a MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welder. While our structure was underway, students were collecting cartons and preparing them for planting by washing and drying each one. We held a contest for students to design posters that encouraged them to participate in reducing waste through recycling and composting. We turned our compost daily and prepared the worm beds for rich nutritious soil. The agriculture science class gathered the prepared cartons for the next step. Each carton was filled ¾ of the way full and we were able sow our seeds. We placed our cartons in the green house for a two week rotation from seed to sprout. Once our seeds sprouted we moved them to our tree structure so they would continue to grow and flourish. Students stayed engaged throughout the Carton to Garden project by creating fun opportunities like writing a recycle rap, choreographing a happy dance, and making healthy nutritious smoothies to enjoy.

Gardening Contest

Participated in the
Gardening Contest