Two ecology classes at Louisville Male High School found a way to combine classwork with helping the environment through the development and installation of a rain garden on the school grounds.
Angela Page is the teacher for the two classes. She reached out to MSD’s Erin Wagoner to speak to the classes about rain gardens.
“We have worked with elementary schools on rain gardens in the past, and it was very successful,” Wagoner said. “What Ms. Page wanted was taking it to the next level, where the students became more active participants in the project.”
A rain garden is made up of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a depression. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rainwater runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns.
Page’s students researched rain gardens, created designs, and ultimately pitched their ideas to a panel that selected the two best proposals. The two proposals were merged into a single rain garden plan. Additionally, the project was assisted by a grant from hardware chain Lowe’s, which awarded it $3,145 as part of its Toolbox for Education program.
Work on the project installation was divided between the two classes, as students spent a morning planting and laying down stepping stones. And even though the initial part of the garden is complete, Page said it will continue to be used as an instructional tool, with future classes looking at the rain garden’s growth and effectiveness.
What Page said she wanted most was for students to take ownership of working toward positive change, and projects like the rain garden offer this opportunity. “You have to have buy-in, and if you make it their class, students have buy-in,” she said. “Projects like this give students an investment in the outcome.”