Nature in a Courtyard — An Outdoor Investigation Lab

The NJH science department is teaming up with the media center’s Makerspace to create an outdoor investigation lab in North Junior High’s interior courtyard. A pollinator garden will be the focus, aimed at connecting students with the natural world around them. Native plants, shrubs, and bird feeders will provide learning opportunities and foster appreciation for the flora and fauna in our community. The courtyard will specifically be used for the IB science criteria of 7th grade Life Science (student-led investigations), and potentially within the new 9th grade Earth Science curriculum. In addition, the space will offer flex seating for any teacher who wants to shake up the routine and take their class outside. The courtyard will also be available to students visiting the media center’s Makerspace – fun investigative projects are planned, such as tagging migrating monarchs (coincidentally using a system developed by former Hopkins teacher Jim Gilbert).

Students and staff will plant wildflowers in spring of 2022, and NJH’s grounds crew has generously offered to create gravel paths throughout the courtyard.

Observing and investigating creatures – literally within the four walls of the school – offers hands-on learning, increases awareness of species essential to our environment, and fosters ownership of courtyard. Perhaps the courtyard will even inspire students and their families to create pollinator gardens at home.


Awarded Fall 2021
North Junior High
John Leaf, Jen Legatt

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