Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
Hans Christian Andersen
Zasqua has become a learning laboratory where we can show our students infinite ways to learn and the many connections that exist in everything that surrounds us. It has also allowed us to think about our classes beyond the classroom and expand our options to work across different disciplines.
In recent years we have taken on the task of creating opportunities to connect classroom content with developing scientific and outdoor work skills. With the projects that have come out of these connections, we want to develop sensitivity to what surrounds us and create awareness about the great impact that the environment can have, starting in preschool, on our community.
Students visit the Biorefuge each week to become aware of the school’s solid waste sorting system. This group of students is responsible for washing the plastic bottles that have been collected in the school’s blue waste bins, the first step in the plastic recycling process. Students have the opportunity to learn about the rest of the steps in the process once they have completed their task.
Additionally, this manual work is focused on strengthening motor skills through repetitive use of their body parts, which allows them to strengthen the muscle groups that are involved in these processes.
This group of students visits the school’s composting area each week in order to close the 6-week composting process. They load the material into small sieves designed for them where they sift the compost and leave it ready to be used. As in the previous year, we seek to continue with the process of raising awareness about the waste we generate at school, but now the focus is on organics.
At the Biorefuge we have a rabbit breeding center where first grade students are responsible for carrying out the cleaning protocol for the system. This allows us to have a more horizontal relationship with the animals, facilitating interactions different from human-pet and recognizing biological processes in the natural world that seek to raise student awareness about our bonds with animals.
Students complete a sticker and activity album that promotes the development of scientific skills using Zasqua as the setting. It is an introduction to the Biorefuge and its different components and processes, with parts to be completed in the classroom and others to be done in Zasqua.
This project combines learning about plants, crops and food with the development of scientific skills and small-scale agricultural work skills, such as: preparing land for planting, planting, crop maintenance, fertilizer and good practices for soil care and diversity.
Through the study of ancestral American cultures, we plant corn crops through which we seek to alternate between the historical narrative and this ancient practice, allowing us to apply and illustrate the content that the students are learning. The cycle ends by preparing corn-based foods that are common in our culture.
Monitoring wetland water quality
Students are responsible for monitoring three main water quality variables in our wetlands: temperature, dissolved oxygen and PH level. This practice allows us to strengthen scientific skills like data analysis, since this information is compared to the data collected in previous years to be able to monitor the ecological restoration process that is underway.
Classifying plants and insects
In Spanish class, we work on skills to explain an idea using different strategies. The first semester has become an opportunity to integrate the class with Zasqua based on proposals for species classification (plants and insects) that students prepare and then explain through a text that they present to the community in one of the Science department’s publications.
Communication skills are key to the entire process: reading different texts related to the topic, class visits by experts that guide students in their searches and explain specific concepts, writing their texts and the processes associated with searching for and selecting pertinent information are some of the tasks that we conduct in Spanish class with the support of Science and Library teachers.
The main objective of this project is for students to learn about chemical reactions, experimental design and scientific explanation and the importance of composting in our local and global context. This project is coordinated with the school’s comprehensive solid waste management system, starting from the compost bin where 2.8 to 3 tons of organic waste are transformed each month, and ending with the final product (compost) that is used in the school’s different farming systems.
Our land and ancient history: Wetlands
This project is an opportunity for our students to take ownership of the land, which was historically flooded, where they can learn about the ecosystem services that wetlands (Zasqua) and their surroundings (Torca-Guaymaral) provide and compare their characteristics. The process ends with the development of a proposal to preserve these ecosystems on the northern edge of the city.