At the beginning of the school year, Bold’s class of 27 students at Murdock Elementary School in Marietta read the Aug. 13 cover story in Time Magazine, “The Plight of the Honeybee,” by Bryan Walsh, Bold said.
“The students were moved by the importance of the honeybee to pollination of crops worldwide, and the students were puzzled by their dwindling population,” Bold said.
According to the Time article, one-third of the human diet relies on some degree of bee pollination such as almonds, which are 100 percent dependent on bees for pollination.
Under Bold’s supervision, the students studied the issue and researched possible solutions, she said. Taking advantage of the students’ passion on the issue, Bold incorporated bees and pollination into her curriculum when appropriate. For example, bees became part of math equations.
“The students’ desire to help the honeybees provided inspiration for them to learn across the board,” Bold said.
After the students read the article, they really wanted to do something, room parent Yvonne Matherne said. “The project was driven by the kids, and Gerry Kiernan stepped up to spearhead the project as the parent volunteer coordinator.”
Kiernan was so inspired by the students and by the project, he is taking steps to become a beekeeper, Matherne said, adding he has already been through some training.
Honey tasting became a recurring event for the class, Bold said, because, with Kiernan’s help, the students brought in honey samples from near and far, including Marietta, Arizona and Vermont. The students also enjoyed a presentation on bees, beehives and beekeeping by fourth-generation beekeeper Robby Maxwell, who works with Bees Knees Apiary in Lilburn, Bold said.
The students ultimately set a goal to plant 100 bee-friendly plants to support pollinators locally. To raise money and awareness, students sold flowering bulbs to friends and family through FlowerPowerFundraising.com.
Kiernan was also responsible for connecting the students to the Dunwoody Nature Center, where the students donated $369 for the center’s new pollinator garden, which supports its onsite beehives. Although the students hoped to get dirty with actual planting, Bold said, they decided to allow the center’s master gardeners to use their expertise in soil preparation, plant selection and planting to ensure success of the garden. This option also increased the number of plants added to the garden because of the master gardeners’ access to lower-priced specimens.
A check was presented to David Boyd, program manager for Dunwoody Nature Center, during Murdock Elementary School’s annual field day opening ceremonies May 13, Bold said, adding some students visited the Center with their families last Sunday to see the freshly planted garden.
“As a teacher, it was fascinating to watch them process everything they learned and use that knowledge to make decisions as a team to achieve their goal,” Bold said. “This was a truly unique group of kids.”
For more information on Dunwoody Nature Center, visit DunwoodyNature.org.