Project Lemon Tree (PLT) is an ecology-agriculture-innovation outdoor classroom curriculum presented as a BizzyB 5 Themes of Innovation project-based learning model. It was recently tested with educators at the STEM Ecosystem Spring Convening, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Inventing with Lemon Trees
PLT is essentially a lemon tree hack. Students are walked through factoids about lemons, such as:
- Lemons are the top sequesterer of CO2 among all cultivated agriculture plants (beneficial to the reduction of greenhouse gases)
- Lemons grow more fruit on pergolas because they encourage horizontal growth patterns that produce more flowers
- Lemons have solvents and anti-bacterial agents that are useful for a variety of products
It’s essentially an invention space for student teams to create and express themselves through plantings and built structures. A 16-lesson curriculum model starts from soil science and moves through designing and building pergolas and trellises. It includes companion gardens like herbs, indigenous plants, bee-friend plants, nitrogen fixators and more. And it ends with a series on products that can be made with lemons like lemonade, air fresheners and cleaning products. For more, see ProjectLemonTree.com.
A Lemon Tree Hackathon at STEM Ecosystems
To test the system among educators, we ran a session in which participants learned a bit about the science of lemon production and pergola building and then designed and built models for pergola concepts. These sessions are normally done by students in our region. The hack ended in the hotel bar after sessions were concluded for the day, where people were standing on popsicle stick models to see which team’s model could take the most weight.
A Win for Project-Based Learning
In addition to learning about educators’ reactions to PLT, we wanted to see how some new ideas would be received. These included ideas about how to transect hackathons and PBL activities. Results showed great sentiments! Thanks for opening minds in this area and for several regions requesting the curriculum, including cold-weather locations that might do this program with apple trees.