Scientific studies have proven that trees communicate when they are under stress or would like to share resources, but what if trees could really tell us about themselves? What might they say? Westfield Friends School third-grade teacher Patricia Lyons, of Moorestown, received a grant to help students ponder those questions and undertake the work of adopting, researching, conducting STEAM challenges, as well as tagging numerous tree species on the school campus.
The grant is from from the Friends Council on Education. The WFS property is on 8.5 acres along Riverton Road in Cinnaminson and includes the Westfield Friends Cemetery. The Friends Council on Education funds creative, student-centered projects that focus on the Quaker testimonies in Friends schools. Westfield’s “Science Buddy” teams learned about the trees on the school grounds and adopted specific trees for the purpose of investigating each's origin, traits and needs.
The students created a self-guided, educational Tree Walk and labeled the trees with tags. With the help of their teachers, Westfield Meeting members, field guides, and iPad apps that helped identify more than 60 tree species, the students designed their own horticultural tree tags. The tags include botanical information and a scannable QR code for additional facts. By accessing a QR code found on the tree's horticultural tag, visitors can listen to a student as she or he speaks as the voice of their adoptive tree.
The school is at 2201 Riverton Road, Cinnaminson. The Tree Walk is open to the public when students are not on campus, on school days after 3:30 p.m., on weekends and during the day in summer months.
Artist, educator, conservationist, and gardener envisions people becoming better connected with their outdoor experiences in public gardens.