Pine Grove Middle School broke ground on its new hydroponics laboratory at a ceremony to celebrate the impending construction of a hydroponics laboratory Monday.
Pine Grove is able to build the laboratory because of the $700,000 Boosting Learning Through Authentic STEM Learning grant from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement Georgia Innovation Fund.
The hydroponics laboratory is part of a larger push for Pine Grove to earn STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — certification and prepare students to succeed in a world increasingly dependent on a working knowledge of scientific and mathematical processes.
“We need more kids interested in science,” said Philip Poole, Lowndes County Board of Education member, District 6, “and this is how you do it.”
The hydroponics lab is not an ending point, but a starting point for both the school and students.
“This is how you lay the groundwork for kids who want to be engineers and scientists,” Poole said.
To start the ceremony, Pine Grove Middle Principal Ivy Smith thanked the faculty and staff and said she was “blessed to serve” as the principal for the school.
The hydroponics lab, a coming aquaponics lab and food forest are not intended to take children out of the classroom, but to move the classroom into a larger space.
“(The lab) will revolutionize the way we teach our kids,” said Pine Grove Life Sciences Teacher Taylor Collins.
Students will be able to experience science beyond the pages and pictures of their textbooks. Students will be able to engage other senses in the learning process.
“What we wanted to do is have a hands-on, curriculum-based learning experience for students,” Smith said.
Both Poole and Collins recognized how uncommon it has become for students to experience hands-on learning while in middle school.
Poole said he is happy middle school students will have the opportunity to learn information and processes most students will not encounter until either high school or college.
Collins echoed Poole’s sentiment.
“We get to show them things other people don’t come into contact with,” Collins said while thanking the faculty, staff and partners who helped to bring the hydroponics lab to fruition.