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The Orchard as a Living Laboratory

In the heart of Orchard STEM School lies a treasure trove of experiential learning – our working orchard! I'm Lori Openshaw, one of the founders of our small school and my background is in both Biological Engineering and Engineering Education. I want to share some ways our orchard serves as a living laboratory - providing students with immersive opportunities to explore science, engineering, and sustainability.


Orchards as Biodiversity Havens

Step into our orchard, and you'll witness a vibrant symphony of life. Beyond apple, peach, and cherry trees, biodiversity thrives. This living laboratory offers a dynamic classroom where students not only read about biodiversity but actively engage with it, gaining a profound understanding of the delicate balance that sustains life.


Our students explore the intricate web of life, studying relationships between plants, insects, birds, and soil microorganisms. Students witness the journey from planting seeds to harvest, gaining insights into plant biology and agriculture. Practical experiences, such as pruning and irrigation, teach the fundamentals of cultivation practices, while seasonal rhythms instill a sense of responsibility towards environmental stewardship. This hands-on experience aligns seamlessly with educational standards like Utah SEEd Standard Strand K.2: Living Things and Their Surroundings. Early engagement with science is vital, laying the foundation for STEM understanding from day one.



Engineering Concepts in the Orchard

For an educator with a background in engineering, integrating engineering concepts into outdoor learning is an exciting prospect. Precision agriculture, renewable energy, and waste management become tangible concepts in the orchard, reinforcing the connection between science, engineering, and environmental stewardship. By engaging with these concepts, students not only learn about sustainability but actively contribute to it.


Fostering Lifelong Learning

At Orchard STEM School, we believe education extends beyond traditional classrooms. The orchard becomes an extension of our educational philosophy, fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity. Students actively participate in the process of discovery, applying mathematical concepts, scientific inquiry, and engineering principles in an interdisciplinary manner. This holistic approach prepares them for a future where navigating complex systems is paramount.

As we nurture the seeds of knowledge in the fertile soil of our orchard, we invite parents to envision an educational experience that goes beyond textbooks and standardized tests.


Enroll your child in Orchard STEM School, where the classroom extends to the great outdoors, and STEM education isn't just a subject but a daily practice. Together, let's cultivate a generation of thinkers, innovators, and stewards of the Earth, grounded in the principles of science, engineering, and the beauty of nature.

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