CitySprouts Middle School Program is an out-of-school time program that engages Cambridge’s young people in science, engineering and math through a garden and food systems lens. Program activities reflect the current Massachusetts science and engineering standards.
Research indicates that young people need out-of-school time experiences that support what they learn in school. More data reveals that middle-class children spend an average of 6,000 more hours than their lower-income peers in out-of-school time learning. Cambridge needs more high quality, accessible STEM opportunities for its less-resourced youth if it is going to close this gap. CitySprouts is committed to rigorous, high-quality STEM programming.
CitySprouts’ curriculum is designed to give students opportunities to practice STEM skills in tangible, relevant contexts. By the completion of the program, youth have had multiple opportunities to make qualitative and quantitative observations, take measurements, engage in aspects of the engineering design process, and produce a product. They have consistently heard language that parallels what they hear during school, reinforcing key STEM content and practices.
Because CitySprouts approaches STEM education through a garden and food systems lens, they often attract youth who don’t think of themselves as scientists. These young people may not have experienced being successful in science and math class in school but CitySprouts sparks an interest by building on young people’s natural interest in food systems. As one principal stated, “For some of our students who struggle academically or with behavior, the garden has served as a powerful incentive.”