Answering Unanswered Questions on the Greenhouse Blog

Meet Rosanne!Most days I’m at the Children’s Museum & Theatre, I wish I had the power to pause time.  The clocks would stick, the crabs would halt mid-scuttle, and the rumbling space shuttle would delay its ignition.  And while the Museum stood still, I would fly down to the library and research the query of a three year old.  Because they ask some pretty incredible questions!

But when we’re sitting in the magical darkness of the Camera Obscura room and our discussion takes a turn towards the tangential and then a skip and a leap into Never Neverland, some questions are left unanswered.  Like this doozy from last week: If you stood on your head enough, could you train your brain to see right-side-up when you’re up-side-down? Hmm.  Sometimes the clock is ticking or attention is faltering, but much of the time, I’m simply not sure of the answer.

In teaching such imaginative and curious minds, I’ve come to realize that I essentially know nothing.  You could fill fire trucks and forests and whales and volcanoes with the things I don’t know. And while I’m perfectly happy to admit that, I always rush home a little faster those days to sherlock some answers.

Which brings us to the point of this introduction, a blog. A blog, you say? How fun! Adventures from  a Museum Greenhouse was created as an outlet to explore, to ponder, to teach and to learn.  A slight bit a way to grow my smarts and a bigger bit a way to answer the questions I couldn’t, this blog was born and blossoms from the minds of our visitors.  Because their imagination and creativity impress me every time I come to work, and I’ll happily let their questions follow me as I leave.

Rosanne started at the Museum & Theatre as a greenhouse education intern and recently joined our staff as a Visitor Guide. Learn more about Rosanne and the rest of our staff here.

Greetings from the Greenhouse!

Hi, I'm Becky!

Hello, I’m Becky Gall, one of the Greenhouse Education Interns here at the Museum. During the fall and spring, I’m a student at the University of Maine, Orono, studying Human Nutrition and Dietetics. I’m lucky to be part of such a great team this summer, working outside sharing what I know about nutrition and gardening with you and your children. I’m writing to give you an insider’s perspective of what’s happening inside and outside of the Greenhouse (located in the Shipyard).

Currently, Corrine (the other Greenhouse Intern) and I have been keeping ourselves busy by maintaining, harvesting, planting, and composting. If you have visited the Greenhouse recently, you may have had the chance to taste some of our ripe strawberries, touch the pea pods, and design your own vegetable garden drawing.

Inside of the Greenhouse right now, the cucumber plants are flowering, the melons are flourishing, the peas pods are maturing, the tomato plants and other plants are looking good. Outside of the Greenhouse, the beets are starting to uproot and the broccoli heads are beginning to crown.

Art inspired by our vegetable garden.

This summer, I encourage you and your kids to come explore and ask us questions to get a better understanding of food. Corrine and I look forward to meeting you as we venture through the lifecycle of fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. I hope that you will participate in many of the Museum’s Greenhouse activities.

Lesson Plans

Stacy Normand is a Cultural Programs intern at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. She is blogging about the Youth Imagine Project. Read her previous posts here.

An aspect of the Youth Imagine Project is giving students professional skills that will help them achieve success, no matter what path they may choose to take in life. This Tuesday, Rahma and I drafted a rough draft of a lesson plan for her Where Does Your Food Come From? program. A lesson plan details the objective of your program, the materials needed and the script for the program that tells the reader things that they can say and do with the visitors. Basically, a lesson plan is a description of your project that can be used by others who want to do your program themselves.

Lesson plans are usually used by educators, and some of the things you learn by writing one, such as the format and content needed, are specific to the task.  However, some of the skills that come with learning how to write one can be used in almost any discipline. Writing a lesson plan means learning how to write clearly and concisely, which is valued in any discipline that requires communication.  Writing clearly is one of those things that appear easy, but once you start doing it you learn it is harder than it sounds. Clear writing includes correct spelling, grammar, and appropriate vocabulary. Can you think of a time someone didn’t communicate clearly? Wasn’t it confusing?

Next week, Rahma and I will work together to edit her lesson plan so that it is as clear as possible. In general, writing is a process, and creating a lesson plan is no different. Check in next week for more exciting updates!

Starting Projects

Stacy Normand is a Cultural Programs intern at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. She is blogging about the Youth Imagine Project. Read her previous posts here.

Getting our hands dirty!
Rahma and I get our hands dirty preparing soil blocks.

It seems like everywhere we look, someone new wants to help with our new greenhouse! Alias, one of our Youth Imagine volunteers, has decided that he wants to help with the construction of the greenhouse – from helping plant the seedlings to constructing the raised beds that they will be planted in. On Tuesday, Alias, Rahma, Jamie and I made soil blocks to plant the seeds in. These small soil blocks will be placed in larger ones once they have grown a bit, and then will eventually be moved into the greenhouse. We are just waiting until it gets a little bit warmer! We had a lot of fun getting our hands dirty!

Last Wednesday, Rahma was able to do her education program with our visitors! She taught them about the different parts of a plant. She used a carrot and a strawberry as examples, and while she was teaching them, the kids got to snack on baby carrots! Yum! Rahma was very excited about how well her program went, and remarked that all of the kids were so smart! Both Rahma and Alias have stated that they would like to continue volunteering with us after their Youth Imagine Project term is over. We are very excited to add them to our list of volunteers! Stay tuned for more news next week!

Sketches & Erasers

Stacy Normand is a Cultural Programs intern at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. She is blogging about the Youth Imagine Project. Read her first post here.

This Thursday I got the chance to meet with Elfriede, one of the Youth Imagine students I have mentioned in prior blogs. She brought in a sketch of the painting she is going to make for us, which details the different types of plants that you can find in our brand new greenhouse! It looked really awesome, and we are working out the details as to how large it can be, as well as what painting supplies we would be able to give her. Soon, she will be coming in to work on it, and it will turn from a pencil sketch to a permanent piece of artwork.

Like Elfriede’s plans for her painting, the Youth Imagine Project is still in the sketching stage. It’s a pilot program, which means certain plans will have to be erased and replaced with more manageable and relevant ideas. This does not mean that the project is doing poorly. On the contrary, alterations are merely an indication that this program could become permanent once it is perfected. Much the same as any piece of art, perfection takes a lot of eraser marks. I guess what I am trying to say is that you don’t fix something just to throw it out! You want to keep it around!

The biggest change we have made to the Youth Imagine Project over the past few weeks is the scheduling. We’ve found that our students have taken on a great amount of responsibility, and have many interests that manifest in other settings than the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. For example, many of our students are participating in Portland High School’s International Show.  While this is a very exciting opportunity for our students to share their culture with the community, their practices were at the same time as the Youth Imagine Project! We are flexible though, and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to change how we structure the meetings with our students. We’ve found that one-on-one time is most beneficial for both the students and the people who are working with them. This is hard to do when you have 10-12 amazing students in one room. We’ve decided to change the scheduling of the program from one 2 hour group session, to multiple small group or individual meetings that are scheduled in different time slots during the week. We hope that this will make our program more convenient for our busy students, but if not, we will just alter it one more time!

We can’t wait until this volunteer program is perfected, but until then, we will slave over the sketches and make changes until our figurative erasers are merely nubs that we hold between our nails as we scratch the paper trying to make a change. We want to make sure that this program is a perfect fit for the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, but also a perfect fit for the youth that participate in it. Stay tuned for next week for new and exciting updates!

What’s in the Greenhouse?!

Stacy Normand is a Cultural Programs intern at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. She is blogging about the Youth Imagine Project. Read her first post here.

Have you peeked out into our backyard lately? Have you noticed a new addition? We have a greenhouse now! Isn’t that exciting? We have started planting lots of new fruits and vegetables for our garden, but how will you know what is what? I mean really, how many people know the name of every type of vegetable and fruit (and trust me, we picked some awesomely unusual ones!) and know exactly what it looks like? I’m betting not many!

This is where one of our Youth Imagine students, Elfriede, steps in. She is thinking about painting a picture of all of the different plants in our greenhouse, including kale, carrots, melons, broccoli and so much more! Along with the image, she will also label each plant with its name, the amount of time it takes to grow, and also the vitamins that you can get from eating it. We aren’t exactly sure where this painting will go just yet, but you can be sure it will be located within sprouting distance of the greenhouse so you can reference it.

It will still be a little while before the greenhouse is all set for our visitors. Soon, the plants will all be in their raised beds, and children will be free to explore it and participate in a variety of programs that are being designed specifically for the greenhouse. (Plus, it’s still chilly out, so it wouldn’t be nearly as fun to play in it right now!) When you do get a chance to poke around in it, make sure to keep an eye out for Elfriede’s painting!