District installs greenhouse on secondary campus

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published July 29, 2015

HARPER WOODS — Instead of studying plants from the pages of a book or on a website, students in Harper Woods will get a chance to develop their green thumbs while tackling science in a new greenhouse.

The greenhouse was part of a larger technology integration plan that the district has been working on for some time. During the last year, the district added renewable energy technology so students can dig into the science, technology, engineering and math fields. 

“The greenhouse and its associated solar panel are complete, and we are starting to get some plant stock in place,” Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said in an email. The greenhouse was completed this month.

Harper Woods High School science teacher Jenny Martin said that the district put in the base for the greenhouse in November. Since then, the students have been eagerly anticipating the completion of the greenhouse.

“They’ve been really excited,” she said.

In early spring, they “started putting in walls and other features,” she added.

The greenhouse has some plants in it now because the students have had access to grow lights in Martin’s classroom.

“We’ve been planting throughout the school year,” she said.

They currently have tomatoes, kale, bell peppers, lettuce and strawberries.

The greenhouse includes energy-saving technology, such as a solar-powered fan and windows that open and close based on its temperature needs.

The goal is not just to work with students in the greenhouse, but to give the students the reins once they have trained to run the greenhouse.

“Hopefully, it will become student-run and just adult-monitored,” Martin said.

Martin said they’re planning to grow flowers so that in the spring they can host a flower fundraiser for Mother’s Day.

Students will be including rain barrels, a compost bucket to make their own fertilizer, and an irrigation system in the greenhouse.

Students with special needs will be using the greenhouse for hands-on learning programs.

The greenhouse will be a learning tool that provides the opportunity to explore different sciences.

“We will also be teaching nutrition while caring for the greenhouse — especially for the anatomy and physiology students,” Martin said in an email. “The students are regularly eating sweet and highly processed foods, and we want to focus on stressing fresh foods; ones that can be sweet and have fiber and other nutrients.”