After the successful use of Bellbridge used carpets in the flower baskets in 2008, Marsha Jones, Science Teacher and Ecology Club Advisor at the Pleasanton Harvest Park Middle School, reported some surprising developments from the very same baskets in 2009. Below, Bellbridge asked the questions and Marsha responds.
The first years planting of the baskets in 2008 revealed significant improved growth between a ‘control’ basket with traditional coconut fiber and the baskets lined with the Bellbridge used wool carpets. Did this surprise your pupils?
Answer: The students were really surprised at the outcome. Most thought the control would demonstrate the greatest growth.
How much interest was there in recycling wool carpets in this way?
Answer: Well, the students were interested, but they have not suggested that we begin a wool carpet-recycling program. I wonder if wool carpet could be used as weed block, mulch and nutrient additive in our pumpkin patch?
The 2009 baskets are in fact the same plantings as those in 2008, what has happened?
Answer: Last year as I pruned the pots, I placed the deadheaded seeds directly back in the pot from which they grew. I also added mums in the fall of 2008 for a last burst of color. All the annual plants are returning this year; this was a surprise to me. They seem to be the original plants, not the seeds, returning.
Was there any additional amendment or plant food added to the baskets?
Answer: Nothing has been added to enrich the original soil.
Do you feel the blooms lasted longer than normal during the last growing season?
Answer: The prolific blooms lasted longer and seemed to have richer colors than plants grown in prior years.
Bellbridge has enjoyed working closely with Pleasanton Unified School District, Harvest Park Middle School, with you and your pupils; do you feel this project has been beneficial for your pupils?
Answer: This project offered an opportunity to bring scientific research to life. We applied the scientific method to solve a real problem. My Ecology Club students who collected the data will always remember this experience. The results were clear and many of the students were surprised at the outcome.
They were thrilled when I explained that our research was published in the international press. Now we are discussing additional problems to explore!
As a teacher I always look for real science that is meaningful for my students. This experiment fit all my criteria for meaningful learning; relevant material, real life questions solved in our school garden and interesting results and conclusions leading to new questions. I can’t think of a better way to address our standards based curriculum.
Finally, Bellbridge wishes to once again thank Marsha Jones and the Pleasanton Harvest Park Middle School Ecology Club for their enthusiasm and commitment to this project. Bellbridge is continuing to develop good environmental uses for its used wool carpets. Bellbridge wool products have a great story of sustainability and we will feature more exciting research developments in the future.