Keeping up with the Green STEM Students of PS 31
By Alison Schuettinger, NWF Sustainability Coach, w/ PS 31 Teacher Mrs. Tesoriero
Green STEM is spreading joy across PS 31! Recently, students in two third grade classes created window planters with our Green STEM Lab teacher, Mrs. Tesoriero, using resources from The Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Students used all upcycled materials to create the window sill planters —they gathered old milk and juice cartons and cut off one side of the container; then they filled it with potting soil so new plants could settle in the space and grow. The containers were planted with small basil seedlings, a potato or onion, and bird seed. Students wrote the instructions for how to care for the plants on one side and decorated the other sides using construction paper.
Mrs. Tesoriero said she really enjoyed the activity, “it was a simple process to do with the students and a great end product that they gifted to staff in the school. Kids loved to plant and share the plants with the school community. It brought them such joy to give them away to staff members who are often unrecognized for all their hard work and it brought the staff such joy to receive it.” Across the 2 classes, they were able to present 12 staff members with the thoughtful planters, including the Office Secretary, School Food cafeteria staff, the Gym Teacher, Aide, Crossing Guard, and Principal.
They even gave me (their Sustainability Coach) a window planter! I was amazed at their enthusiasm, the kind Thank You card, and the creative decorations they added to the planter. By altering a student’s and staff member’s everyday interactions, these green gifts create a new dialogue between staff and students. When he entered the classroom the day after I received my gift, a student excitedly asked me, “Did the sunflower grow yet?!” He couldn’t wait to hear if the seeds had started sprouting. “Have you been watering it?!” Dawn, the school secretary, told me, “We put it in the window and have been watering it every day. They gave me a card and a hug. I loved it, it made me feel really good.” It was a sweet, successful project that used nature and gratitude to bring people in the same building closer together. A small way to give can make anyone feel valued, appreciated, and loved.