Bill Smith, a middle/high school science teacher at CA Frost Environmental Science Academy, recently won $1000 from the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) to purchase a greenhouse and provide new resources for hands on learning.

The award came during VAEI’s Pitch Tank 2019, which took place July 15 and 16 after   Science on the Grand: a STEAM Conference for Inquiry-Based Instruction. The pitch competition was open to all conference attendees who wished to present a proposal.

Smith’s proposal requested funding to develop a greenhouse and the resources necessary to get it started at the middle high school. CA Frost Environmental Science Academy’s elementary building already has a greenhouse, but the middle/high school building does not.

The proposed greenhouse aligns with the environmental science curriculum at CA Frost. Classes will learn firsthand how to grow food using natural fertilizers such as composting and vermicomposting, how carbon is cycled through the greenhouse, and gardening practices which will enable them to grow their own food.

“I’ve wanted to start gardens but the growing season in Michigan does not align well with our school calendar,” says Smith. “With the greenhouse, I can have students grow food year round that they can take home to their families. All of the planning, designing, and long term projects that go into food-growing help students develop real life skills”

Smith plans on using the VAEI award as seed money for the greenhouse and will reach out to local greenhouses and home improvement businesses for partnership opportunities.