PS 110 The Monitor School is lucky enough to be situated across from McGolrick Park., a gathering spot for community members of all ages to exchange ideas, play and learn. For the past few weeks a group of fifteen kids have been using the park as an outdoor classroom to explore their curiosities about gardening and the natural world.
Below is a sampling of some of their discoveries and what they would like to study in the upcoming weeks.
Describe a discovery you made while using McGolrick Park as a classroom.
Victoria: I learned that plants can be used to make natural dyes and inks–like you can use acorns from oak trees and pokeberries.
Ryan: I found a type of weed I have never heard of before. It is called milkweed. Milkweed is a type of weed that Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on to be safe from other animals that might eat them. This is important because if we destroy all the milkweed, the butterflies could become extinct since they will have no place to lay their eggs.
[Editor’s Note: although its name contains the word “weed”, milkweed makes a welcome addition to a garden; it is an important native wildflower essential for the monarch butterfly, as well as numerous other wildlife species.]
Louise: There are two main types of plants: herbaceous and woody. The woody plants are all the plants that are trees, bushes, and shrubs. Herbaceous plants are plants such as flowers, vines, grass and most weeds and herbs.
Amelia: There are different kinds of weeds. Some are important and can help insects like butterflies.
After spending time outside learning, what new topics would you like to explore?
Victoria: I would to learn more about the plants and animals who make McGolrick Park their home.
Ryan: I would like to learn more about important and not well-known flowers and plants like milkweed. I spend a lot of time in the park and would like to know more information about the environment I live in. I would also like to learn more about the insects and animals that live in the park.
Louise: I would like to know more about other types of plants. Another thing I would like to know is what plants, like milkweed, can help other animals live and grow.
Amelia: I would like to explore the different types of plants and trees.
Fran Agnone is a Sustainability Coach at PS 110 for the National Wildlife Federation Greenpoint Eco-Schools Program.