Lotuslands’ Fourth Grade Outreach Program, started in 1998 with just four schools, now serves 2,500+ students from around Santa Barbara county each school year. The program emphasizes the interrelationships of the natural world, including plants, animals and humans through classroom curriculum materials, a docent classroom presentation, and a field trip experience in the gardens. The critical role plants play in sustaining life on earth and our part in their conversation are key themes they read about, hear about and see. Students learn how oxygen, carbon dioxide, plants, animals, humans and our shared habitats are all bound together and how plant adaptation is critical for survival. The hands-on field study of the botanical gardens of Lotusland is a critical component of the program and increases the retention of topics and learning objectives.
Fourth Grade Outreach Program Learning Objectives
Lotusland relies on the California Science Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards as adopted by the California State Board of Education. Upon completion of the Fourth Grade Outreach Program, the students will have learned the following:
• NGSS 4-LS1-1: Structures and functions:
Identify the macroscopic parts of plants (structures) and construct arguments for how they help the plant to survive (functions)
Define adaptation and explain how particular plants and animals are adapted to their environment. Begin to think about local and far away habitats and examine the features of our Mediterranean climate.
• NGSS 4-LS1-2: Animal senses
Model the process of pollination
Understand that animal pollinators and their plants are interdependent
Understand that birds, bees, butterflies, and beetles see the world differently. Some can see more colors than humans, while others can see less.
• NGSS CCC: A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions
Explain first, second, and third-level consumers and how they depend on one another, particularly in a compost food chain
The Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering Practices (SEP’s)
According to the California Science Framework for grade four, students are to be proficient at the following science and engineering practices (SEP):
1. Asking Questions and Defining Problems
2. Developing and Using Models
3. Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
4. Constructing Explanations (for science) and Designing Solutions (for engineering)
5. Engaging in Argument from Evidence
6. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
At this age, students become proficient at noticing patterns and collecting more detailed observations and measurements than they did in earlier grades. They analyze and interpret patterns in their data as evidence that one event causes another, but in many cases they do not fully explain how or why things happen. The curriculum and pedagogical approach of Lotusland’s tours aim to help students in developing these SEP’s through the use of inquiry-based learning.
California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C’s)
We also build on California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C’s), which are part of the California Science Framework, particularly teaching students about the critical role plants play in sustaining life on earth and the effect of human impacts on plant health and habitat, meeting the following (EP&C’s):
1. People depend on natural systems
2. People influence natural systems
3. Natural systems change in ways that people benefit from and can influence