I am going to think more about what I take and put on my plate, and if I think I am not going to eat it, I just don't take it. - Josh
I N T R O D U C T I O N
6th graders at Realms Middle School in Bend, Oregon launch into a semester-long learning expedition about the engaging topic of food through the "Waste Less, Nourish More" learning expedition!
Students begin with an immersion experience and examination of food waste. Students use mathematical reasoning to calculate the waste stream from our school to our local landfill (Knott Landfill), while also looking at the larger contribution of waste from the Bend LaPine School District. After spending time examining waste, participating on fieldwork to the Knott Landfill, students begin to move away from the "Waste Less" part of the expedition and more towards the "Nourish More" by looking at the various ways that food gets to our plates. Students learn about local and industrial farms, nutrition, and the scientific processes of plants in a rich inter-disciplinary expedition, combining Humanities, Science, Math, Art and Technology classes.
Students watch documentaries, read both fiction and non-fiction food texts, and develop their understanding of where our food comes from. They gather data on food choices and reflect on their own journey as consumers. Students also participate in service-rich fieldwork, including a multi-day food based trip to Portland and several day trips in Central Oregon. We believe that the more knowledgeable we are in this process, the more control we have over the system that feeds us—and the more we can change that system for the better.
Realms Middle School is a magnet school in the Bend LaPine School District serving 152 sixth through eighth grade students who seek a school where academically rigorous curriculum meets active pedagogy. Our expanded definition of student achievement, drawn from our work with EL Education, goes far beyond the traditional mastery of knowledge and skills. At REALMS, students become young adults of character who possess the ability to produce high quality work through a curriculum that focuses on real-world, inter-disciplinary, and problem-based learning, frequent fieldwork, and authentic stewardship/service.
H I S T O R Y of this EXPEDITION
The foundation for "Waste Less, Nourish More" was set by the Realms 6th grade Humanities team after teaching a semester-long learning expedition called "Nourish" for the past five years. After being chosen as one of the 18 EL Better World Projects this year and securing additional grant funding, a larger staff team set out to expand the "Nourish" learning expedition into "Waste Less, Nourish More", strengthening the cohesion between classes and adding the additional case studies of waste and food insecurity. Being a part of EL's Better World Projects cohort coupled with grant funding allowed a team of educators to re-design and broaden the rich and powerful "Nourish" learning expedition into a rich interdisciplinary learning expedition including Math, Science, Art, and Technology classes, giving birth to "Waste Less, Nourish More."
~ Michael Pollen's "Omnivore's Dilemma" ~ The "Food Recovery Hierarchy ~ ~Expert Fieldwork Experiences ~
Our new and expanded team (and expedition) needed an anchor! As we embarked on an expedition re-design, growing and expanding the work of two teachers, to now include five, required a strong anchor to build cohesion for the students and team. Michael Pollen's "Omnivore's Dilemma" provided the obvious anchor text as it had been the cornerstone for the Humanities Expedition, "Nourish" for the past five years. In the re-design planning process, our team also latched on to the "Food Recovery Hierarchy" pyramid introduced thoughtfully in the documentary, "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste" (which inspired our team). The final anchor was strengthening existing community partnerships to go deeper in the ways that we can get food to our plates and increase food security for everyone.
The "Food Waste Upcycling Upsidedown Pyramid"
The Whole Hog Fieldwork garnered press!
Realms fieldwork experiences at the Cascade Culinary Institute and Piggyback Ranch inspired responsible meat production and consumption through hands-on, transparent, experiential education. Through a butchering lesson at the Cascade Culinary Institute with Chef Thor Erickson, followed by a tour and service-learning experience at Piggyback Ranch, students saw the whole hog experience and witnessed a responsible and sustainable method to meat production and consumption in Bend, Oregon.
Lunch Waste Audit
On March 8th, Realms 6th graders set out on an investigation to answer the following questions about food waste . . .
- How much do WE waste in a day?
- How much in one week?
- How much in an entire school year?
As part of the "Waste Less" case study, students were thrust into an immersion experience that included a closer look at the school's food waste through a food waste audit, Bend LaPine school district's waste stream, and a whole lot of Math.
I used to think that food was just food, something on your plate that you eat. If you throw away food there’s no consequence it goes in a landfill that never ends. Now I know that food is fuel, food is something everybody needs. Also I know now not to waste my food, and that the landfill is not endless. - Coral
S C I E N C E
- Students investigated the organization of matter and energy flow in organisms, built and monitored decomposition columns as an investigation into biotic and abiotic systems.
- Studied the interdependent relationships in ecosystems, resource requirements and limiting factors.
- Investigated the chemical processes of life; including photosynthesis vs. respiration as well as mass balance.
~ H U M A N I T I E S ~
Students watched documentaries, read both fiction and non-fiction food texts, and develop their understanding of where our food comes from. Students read Michael Pollen's "Omnivore's Dilemma", Paul Fleischman's "Seedfolks" and devoured other documentaries, such as : "Fed Up", a documentary that explores the impact of sugar on our society and"King Corn", a documentary about two friends that want to figure out the path of corn in America..
A R T
MISSION: TO CREATE SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND ACCESS TO GOOD FOOD, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE THAT ARE FOOD INSECURE OR PEOPLE OF COLOR.
6th grade students tour and participate in a service-learning project at Mudbone Grown in Portland, Oregon. Farm owners, Art and Shantae's mission is to increase access to good food especially for people who are food insecure and people of color.
31 out of 31,000 farmers in Oregon are people of color
During the summer months, Mudbone Grown offers a weekly box of vegetables for people who are food insecure for five dollars a week.
Learning Garden Labs
MISSION: TO EDUCATE STUDENTS (ADULTS AND CHILDREN) ABOUT SUSTAINABLE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES, NUTRITION, AND HEALTHY EATING HABITS.
The Learning Gardens Laboratory (LGL) is a 12-acre educational garden facility managed in partnership by Oregon State University Extension Service Community and Urban Horticulture Program and Portland State University LECL Program in cooperation with Portland Public Schools and City of Portland Parks and Recreation.
Oregon Food Bank
MISSION: TO PROVIDE HUNGER RELIEF THROUGH STATE-WIDE DISTRIBUTION CENTERS.
Realms students participated in a service project at The Oregon Food Bank in Portland, Oregon on April 4th.
Today, Oregon Food Bank (started in 1988) collects food from farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, individuals and government sources. We distribute that food through a Statewide Network of 21 Regional Food Banks and approximately 1,200 food assistance sites serving all of Oregon and Clark County, Washington.
Back Door Cafe
MISSION: A COMPASSIONATE CARE PROGRAM IN BEND, SERVING THE HUNGRY AND FOOD INSECURE.
Realms students served at The Back Door Café on Wednesday, May 9th. Students helped serve a hot breakfast prepared in the kitchen, pass out mail, sort and organize clothing donations, pass out shower supplies, clear tables, and do dishes.
The Back Door Cafe serves Breakfast to everyone who wants it, mostly homeless and marginally housed people from our community.
The Back Door Cafe gives out bus passes, helps people with prescriptions, meals and food, utilities, rental assistance, and, most importantly, provides an understanding ear that demonstrates that every human being is seen.
6th grade students became experts of various topics within "Waste Less. Nourish More" and shared with the Realms community and community partners at Reflections from the Field.
Additionally, students prepared and hosted appetizers that represented their case study into "global" and "local" food respectively and ran a plant sale with small starts grown in the Realms garden.