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San Diego High Classes Grow Into Sustainable Balboa Park Garden

San Diego High School sophomores in the school's GeoTech Academy program planting a sustainable, native plant garden they designed as freshmen outside of the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park, Nov. 7, 2013.

Aired 11/7/13 on KPBS News.

Students in San Diego High’s Green Tech program made over the planter beds surrounding Balboa Park’s Automotive Museum on Thursday.

— Sophomore Ngasia Snyder and her classmates broke a sweat Thursday morning working with city parks staff to plant a sustainable native plant garden that they designed last year.

The design by Snyder’s team was chosen over more than a dozen other proposals by classmates, teachers and professionals.

“It was actually fun, too." she said. "Because we got to come here, do all the measurements for the plants and see how they would look and just learn about them more.”

Students worked on the design budgets and scale drawings in math class and researched native plants in earth science. They learned how much space, water and light each plant type needed in their green engineering class and then drew it all together in a presentation they worked on during English class.

Katie Carl, an engineering teacher at San Diego High, said Friends of Balboa Park brought the garden design project idea to teachers, but interdisciplinary projects like this one are a regular part of how San Diego High's green tech program tries to approach learning.

“So that the students understand what are they learning and why are they learning it," she said. "Sometimes they kind of lose sight of that. And that way if we can make it relevant to the real world it really helps get students motivated.”

The garden also gives students a chance to contribute to the city in a tangible way. Carl said it's something they'll be able to revisit 10 or more years from now and say "I helped put this here."

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