Annie’s STEM Lab: Plant Edition!

By Annie Savinon, STEM Educator

As we get ready to embrace the warmer weather, many families will be headed outside to enjoy the sunshine! While the list of outdoor activities may include some items such as chalk and bubbles, perhaps consider adding some watering cans and shovels to your child’s outdoor supply list this year! Gardening can be a wonderful activity that can engage all members of your family. Below, lists a few of the wonderful benefits families can experience while completing this activity together!  

  • Promotes healthy eating and builds confidence and self-esteem. It is no secret your family will be excited to eat the food they made themselves. As we know, fruits, veggies, and herbs all have wonderful health benefits!

  • Encourages scientific inquiry. Naturally with the gardening process, your child will begin to ask questions about the parts of the plant, the stages of its growth, and when it is time to harvest. Having this knowledge through experience will increase your child’s science comprehension. In New York State, students are expected to begin learning and observing the life cycle and observations of plants starting in their kindergarten science classes!

  • Enhances a calm and happy mood. The act of gardening is a calming experience. James Lake MD with Psychology Today shares that regular gardening has been shown to enhance one’s general well-being, cognitive function, and community engagement. Also, it has been found that participation in gardening activities reduced the severity of depressed anxiety, reduced stress, and enhanced overall quality of life!

  • Natural sun benefits. Being outside on a sunny day certainly has benefits in itself; two being Vitamin D and better sleep! The National Library of Medicine states that the best-known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost the body’s Vitamin D supply. Without sufficient Vitamin D, bones may not form properly, which could result in young children being at risk for a disease called rickets. Also, The National Library of Medicine states that humans are diurnal creatures, and we are truly programmed to be awake and outside during the sunshine hours, and asleep during the dark hours. When people are exposed to sunlight or bright artificial light in the morning, their nocturnal melatonin production occurs sooner, and they can enter sleep more easily at night. How much sunlight is the right amount you may ask? Although there is no one size fits all answer here, and it depends on the human’s skin composition and location, it is a good rule of thumb that we can see significant health benefits with about 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day!

A summer day beginning with a morning walk and gardening, anyone? Yes, please!

Lastly, depending on your gardening skills, there could be a perfect beginner plant if you are a novice gardener looking for a successful harvest. The Old Farmers Almanac states that some of the easiest and most common vegetables that can be grown by all includes lettuce, green beans, and peas! For further information on growing tricks for these veggies and more, refer to the link below!

Useful links:

Gardening and Mental Health: A Brief Overview

K-LS1-1: Plant and Animal Needs

You Can Do It! The 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed

Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health

Photos:

The girls in the photos for this article are the author’s adorable nieces! Their names are Bridget, Winnie, and Hadley, and they enjoy gardening with their mom and dad every season in Hilton Head, South Carolina!

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