Impact Stories

An Impact Study of Green Our Planet's School Garden and Hydroponics Programs

Written by
Leah Jaynes
Published on
April 8, 2024
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One Mighty Seed can Impact the Entire Universe!

“[Teachers] were amazed as they watched a little girl eat her salad. They serve breakfast and lunch to her every day and this was the first time she had eaten anything at school all year. THIS PROGRAM IS AWESOME!” -Anonymous Parent

How can one tiny seed make an impact on the universe? Green Our Planet strives to achieve the impossible each and every day–and indeed succeeds, making an impact all with the start of one seed.

During the 2022-23 school year, Green Our Planet partnered with Innovative Research & Analytics LLC to embark on a School Garden Impact Study. The main goal of the study was to provide evidence that Green Our Planet’s school garden and hydroponics education programs positively impacted student academic success and engagement. Overall, this research journey resulted in a successful landing mission with data for 3,554 students from 75 schools across 25 states. The results? A resounding 93% of students showed improvements in content knowledge and 83% of students showed improvements in behavior such as school engagement and healthy eating habits. These results align perfectly with prior comprehensive research which concluded that garden-based learning increases student academic performance in science by 93% (Dilafruz & Scott, 2013). 

Digging into the Data

Content knowledge questions were included in student Pre and Post surveys to measure improvements in student accuracy. These Pre and Post surveys included content questions related to HydroConnect and GardenConnect program curricula provided to schools by Green Our Planet. Questions were structured in an identical manner in both the Pre and Post surveys and set up in multiple choice format. Any differences observed in student accuracies were measured and documented by a percent change in correct answer responses between the Pre and Post assessments. If the percent change in response data was positive, it was deemed a value unit of “percent improvement,” while any negative change was noted as a “percent decline.”

Overall, the comparison between Pre and Post survey responses to content knowledge questions resulted in an overwhelming majority of positive percent improvements. Specifically, 93% of all student responses in post-survey content questions resulted in percent improvements! HydroConnect students in particular demonstrated average percent improvements between 14% and 19%, with some students gaining more than 30% growth in their content question accuracy.

Bring on the Scientists!

To measure growth in behavior and perspectives around science, the student surveys included a series of statements followed by Likert-scale "agree” and ”disagree” response options. Students were prompted to select the most appropriate agree or disagree option on a five-point scale, which was then converted to a “percentage agreed” scale for analysis. Examples of some of these Likert-scale statements included “I think about being a scientist when I grow up,” and “I like learning about flowers and the parts of a plant.” Any differences observed in student agree responses were measured and documented by a percent change between the Pre and Post survey assessments, and deemed a value unit of “percent increase,” or “percent decrease” accordingly.

Overall, students in grades 1 - 2 demonstrated percent increases in eight out of the nine Likert statements. Of these increases were a 10% increase in students who stated that they used math outside of school, a 19% increase in students who wanted to be scientists when they grow up, and a 28% increase in students who used science outside of school. Furthermore, when looking at individual program data for HydroConnect students, percent increases were often much greater than the conglomerate data–the most notable being a 40% increase in students stating that they wanted to become scientists when they grow up, achieving a total of 66% of HydroConnect student participants that want to be scientists! For students in grades 3 - 5, there were seven demonstrated increases out of the nine total Likert scale statements, with most of these being much smaller increase values compared to the responses from grades 1 - 2. Further investigation needs to be done to determine the cause behind the larger impact in student behavior at lower grade levels. Some factors that might play a role include student age and the associated level of increased school offerings that students may be exposed to in higher grade levels.

What did Teachers and Parents Have to Say?

Measurements related to changes in student behavior and outlook were also collected via survey responses from teachers and parents at the end of the school year. These important stakeholders were asked if they noticed any changes in their students’ interests in sustainability and nature, and if they noticed any improved perceptions of school culture and climate as a result of the GardenConnect and HydroConnect programs. The table below provides the teacher and parent results for each of these questions, with a resounding majority of stakeholders responding positively in every category.

Testimonials from teachers and parents were also collected as a part of these stakeholder surveys. The majority of testimonials provide evidence of tremendous leaps and bounds in the vegetables and fruits the students were consuming as a result of the HydroConnect and GardenConnect curriculum that was being implemented. There are clear patterns of increased understanding and ownership of nutrition and healthy eating habits amongst the participating students.

The Data is Clear: One Seed can Make a HUGE Impact!

The 2022-23 Student Impact Study successfully provided clear evidence of student academic growth and healthy changes in behavior using Green Our Planet’s HydroConnect and GardenConnect programs, with 93% of students showing improvements in content knowledge and 83% of students showing improvements in behavior. Knowing this will propel Green Our Planet forward in driving home the ultimate mission: empowering students to grow food and connect to the magic and majesty of the universe!

In sharing these impactful results with schools, Green Our Planet hopes to bridge the gap that is currently observed in teacher engagement. Other internal studies have shown that 60% of teachers enrolled in the STEM curriculum programming are not fully engaged with the curriculum. Green Our Planet has created data-driven improvement plans to combat the current challenges regarding teacher engagement. Action items that are currently underway at Green Our Planet include real-time follow up and support for teachers who have indicated they need additional guidance, as well as a new and improved Magic Garden Portal where curriculum, workshops, teacher resources, and additional support is available to schools all in one seamless, collaborative online community space. 

Green Our Planet is a mighty team of mission control experts constantly striving to help students achieve lift off. The launch plans determined by mission control are rooted in the evidence-based findings. Knowing that students are positively impacted by school gardens and hydroponics will allow everyone–Green Our Planet, schools, students, community members, and beyond–to reach for the stars and achieve greatness as the HydroConnect and GardenConnect programs only continue to grow and reach new heights. With ongoing research efforts, students will become even more empowered to grow their own food and connect to the majesty in the universe. All it takes is one seed to be planted. From there, the possibilities are endless!

Interested in our programs? Join a free 20-minute webinar to learn more!

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