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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Mary Fay Pendleton's first-graders reap national award for sowing seeds

By Cpl. Kyle J. Walker | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | June 01, 2000

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- First-graders from Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School on base
learned life lessons through gardening recently and earned national
recognition in the process.

Teacher Dovie Christensen and her class of 18 students at Potter
Elementary School in Fallbrook won first place in the National Youth
Gardening Show for their display of plants.

The event is sponsored annually by the Fallbrook Garden Club and Color
Spot Nursery, Christensen said. Entry was free of charge and open to the
community.

The class conducted two experiments with tomato plants, Christensen
said. They applied Miracle Gro, a substance used to make plants grow
faster and healthier, to one plant, but not the other.

Both plants were watered regularly. Miracle Gro plants grew bigger and
healthier, she said.

"Each student had the chance to observe the plants and guess the results,"
Christensen said. "Most students thought Miracle Gro would help the
plants grow bigger and healthier. The students were right."

The class not only had fun but used the experiment as a creative learning
experience.

"I believe that integrating this method into the school's curriculum will help
each student tremendously in his or her learning," Christensen said.

"Taking care of a garden and plants teaches students responsibility."

Each student received his or her own plant and was responsible for its
health and growth, Christensen said. The students kept journals, recording
their observations and changes their plants made.
One parent said the project imparted a good lesson on responsibility.

"This gardening project has taught my child to take care of something on
his own," said Stephanie Moses, classroom volunteer. "My child has not
only matured at school, but also at home."

"To take a seed and watch something grow from nothing helps students realize there is a cycle through life," Christensen said. "You can't
understand life until you know how it works. Everything is a cycle and we
are a part of that cycle."


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