Lee Burneson Hoop House WIll Join Technology, Gardening
Technology teacher Kurt Thonnings plans include solar-powered irrigation systems.
Kurt Thonnings winning "green" presentation has won the Lee Burneson Middle School a hoop house.
Thonnings, a Technology Resource Teacher with the Westlake School District, is being credited with winning the Gardens That Teach Challenge in Cuyahoga County.
Lee Burneson Middle School won the Gardens That Teach Challenge, earning the new Westlake middle school a $2,246 10’ x 16’ hoop house. Hoop houses are polyurethane or plastic covered greenhouses that allows for additional growing time.
Tunnel Vision Hoops will work Thonning to install the hoop house at the new middle school this spring.
“It was just a whim on my sake,” Thonnings said. “I put in an application to win a hoop house that described how you would use a garden curriculum wise.
The subject is not foreign to Thonnings. He is the project coordinator on Grow It!, a a collaborative, technology centered project involving four school grades.
Thonnings said he has met with Parkside Intermediate and Lee Burneson PTA members to determine if the garden can be used for both. He teaches at both schools.
He’s also spoken with representatives from Dean’s Greenhouse and the Westlake Garden Club.
The project potentially could impact about 1,200 students between the middle and intermediate schools. Teachers, PTA and the Westlake Garden Club will plan, build and maintain the garden. Science teachers will plan activities from plant science to soil biology, as well as weather concepts. Thonnings will have his technology students design and build prototypes for solar-powered irrigation systems, rain collection and solar-powered fans for the hoop houses.
“The emphasis was on a garden with genetics and curriculum,” Thonnings said. "It's more of a systemic kind of thing; how we can put this into the curriculum as well as be collaborative with schools,” Thonnings said.
Thonnings intends to use the plants grown in the hoop houses and gardens for research and to supplement the school cafeterias of LBMS and the future Dover Intermediate School, as well as the Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve (located next to the current middle school) and possibly local charities.
Data will be collected with sensors on pH levels, soil moisture and mineral levels.
Thonnings expects the hoop house will be installed after a road is put in behind the school.
“When the road is put in will determine when the hoop house will be,” Thonnings said.
The hoop house will be incorporated as part of a large community/school garden area at the new middle school, scheduled to open this fall. Thonnings already planned to build a small, 12-foot long hoop house in the area this spring.
The new hoop house will be part of that area that students and the Westlake Garden Club will maintain.
He expects students in the Project Link program will tend the garden in the summer. This fall cold mean the first harvest of lettuce and spinach if the project moves forward as planned.
In addition, The Hummingbird Project has offered to donate a Healthy Soil Workshop to the winning school that's valued at $600, where participants will learn about the complex soil food web.