The Pumpkin Patch Project

FAIRFIELD—As fall arrives, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs’ months-long pumpkin patch project is coming to completion. Students have used their observational skills, counting and measuring, some basic botany and, of course, teamwork. The project has helped students become more aware of the seasons and their connection to the growing cycle.

The project is the brainstorm of Patty Loh, one of the Academy teachers. “In summer school I thought it would be fun to study the life cycle of pumpkins,” she said. “I bought the tray of seeds; we planted them, and within a week we had sprouts. The students were all excited.”

The whole school got involved, with each class engaged in various activities. Mrs. Loh’s class started with the basics. What is a seed? When is the best time to plant a seed? How do you help it grow?

She created a bulletin board illustrating the growing cycle and filling in the specific timeline of the Saint Catherine project. Her students worked on their calendar skills, connecting the names of the months with the number of the month on the timeline and identifying the stages of growth from photos.

Mrs. LaPorta’s class conducted some “pumpkin investigation” each Wednesday afternoon, noting what they saw, answering specific questions about size and color, and reinforcing what they saw by coloring worksheets. In Sr. Cheryl’s class, students created Pumpkin Patch journals, in which they recorded the number of plants and blossoms they observed, measured vines, and studied the planting timeline.

Like all scientific experiments, the results do not always come out as hoped. It is likely that we planted our seedlings too late for pumpkins to be harvested this fall. That is great information, and Mrs. Loh plans to talk with her class about what they can do to make sure that we have pumpkins next year.

However, all this didn’t stop a certain parent “Pumpkin Wizard” from dropping off a few full-grown pumpkins in the patch! Just for fun, of course.