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Grant Amendment Capacity of a School Garden Integrated Curriculum to Benefit (Title I) Elementary Students' Mental Wellness, Cognitive Functioning, and Behavior An Interdisciplinary Pilot Investigators: William Schmahl, Bonnie Lam, Jeffrey Brantley All significant modifications to the grant proposal are summarized below, by section. The full proposal with changes is attached, for reference. Executive Summary Adjustment 1: Using surveys and tests, we will take measures of change though indicators: stres s, anxiety, and attention span. Our team chose to focus our scope on these three indicators, leaving out memory and problem solving activities as the other indicators. Our reasons are two fold; with the short amount of time allotted for this pilot study, the intervention is not expected to elicit a change in these more stable traits. Also, testing for these additional indicators would add possible. Proposal No changes Goals and Objectives Adjustment 1: At least 10 different garden based lessons will be created in time for the first day of school. This is a change from the initially proposed 14 lessons. The difference is a result of logistic changes within the summer p rogram, as student rosters will not be set by the school prior to the end of the school year (before summer begins). As informed consent forms cannot be distributed to an undefined population, we will instead use the first week of summer school as a time t o gather consent. This leaves 5 active weeks for the study, a negligible difference because this project is a pilot. Adjustment 2: This second adjustment follows Adjustment 1, as 1 0 lessons will be taught instead of the initial 14; even with the number change, we continue to strive for ~80%. Adjustment 3: This third adjustment also follows Adjustment 1, as 10 lessons will be taught instead of the initial 14; even with the number change, we continue to strive for ~75%. Expected Outcomes Adjustments As outcomes of the program, results from the stated objectives above will show that students surveyed
Adjustment 1: Improved mental wellness through the indicators of reduced anxiety and stress as measured by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) for Ch ildren (Spielberger) and the Amended Perceived Restorative Components Scale for Children (Bagot), respectively. We specified the STAI (as there is an adult version as well) and replaced the Restoration Scale by Han because the Amended Perceived Restorative Components Scale for Children, by Bagot, is more appropriate to use with this age group. This new scale for measuring stress (proxied by restoration) is also more accessible. Adjustment 2: Improved cognitive function through the indicator of attention spa n, as measured by the Stroop Test for Children. We removed the indicators for memory and problem solving ability for previously mentioned reasons, thereby eliminating the need for a memory quiz and a time to solve logic activity. Methods and Program Desig n Adjustment 1: The quasi experimental pilot will be conducted with two, 3 rd grade classes of approximately 20 students each, over 5 weeks. The proposal stated two groups of 30, but Florida law for class size maximums restricts 3 rd grade class size (includ ing summer sessions) to 18 students (21 in some exceptions). Also, the proposed 6 active weeks, is changed to 5 active weeks because of the added informed consent period (1 week). The effect of fewer participants and shorter time of study is anticipated to be negligible as this project is a pilot, with a focus on methodology. Methods Schedule Summary: Week 1 (June 11 14) Non active week; Gathering of informed consent forms, assent o Monday, June 11 Distribute informed consent forms to students o Thursday, June 14 Collect signed informed consent forms from students, follow assent procedures via covertly marked papers from each student that returned IC. Week 2 (June 18 21) First active week; Pre Week 3 (June 25 28) Week 4 (July 2 5) Week 5 (July 9 12) Week 6 (July 16 19) Fifth (last) active week; Post surveys/assessments Evaluation Adjustment 1: Data will be collected at the beginning and the end of the 5 week active session. As previously mentioned, a 6 week active session was initially proposed. Adjustment 2: Data collected will include the results of the surveys mentioned in Methods. As pre viously noted, we have decided to focus on the indicators of stress, anxiety, and attention span leaving out memory (memory quiz) and problem solving (logic activity). Key Personnel No changes
Equipment and Facilities No changes Timeline No changes Bu dget Adjustment 1: Plastic watering can 6 @ $5.97/each = $35.82 The high water efficiency irrigation systems for the learning flower bed will be replaced with the watering cans in order to allow for more student interaction with the gardens. Additionally, we were able to re route the funds to purchase licenses for survey use. Adjustment 2: Licenses for use of copyrighted research evaluation surveys = $280.00 Funds from the watering systems will be put toward purchasing licenses for the State Trait Anxiety I nventory for Children ($100) and the Stroop Color Test for Children ($180). New total: Requested total for entire grant = $2,766.74 The total is a difference of +$15.85, from the previously requested $2750.89.
Capacity of a School Garden Int egrated Curriculum to Benefit (Title I) Elementary Students' Mental Wellness, Cognitive Functioning, and Behavior Interdisciplinary pilot project conducted by: William Schmahl, MS student in Soil and Water Science; Bonnie Lam, Masters student i n Public Health; and Jeffrey Brantley, undergraduate in Soil and Water Science Project Dates: April September 2012 Budget Requested: $2766.74
Contents Abstract/Executive Summary Proposal Narrative o Statement of Need o Goals and Objectiv es o Methods and Program Design o Evaluation o Key Personnel o Equipment and Facilities o Cited Sources Timeline Supplementary Materials o Detailed Budget o Letters of Support Faculty Advisors o Team Resumes
Abstract/ Executive Summary Sparr Elementary is a Title I public school located in rural Marion County, Florida, serving approximately 400 students PK 5. Students in every applicable grade (besides 3rd & 5th grade math) scored lower on the FCAT in all subjects compared with averages for county and state in 2011. Studies have found that children living below the poverty line are more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems. Anxiety and stress may manifest itself in lower attention spans and decreased retention abilities Low income children tend to also have lower measures in cognitive ability, with increased risks of learning disabilities, developmental delays. For achievement outcomes, these issues translate into increased rates of grade repetition, suspension/expulsio ns, and school dropout. This school garden project was created using evidence based information from various studies that support a relationship between direct/indirect experiences with nature and improvements in mental wellness, cognitive functioning, a nd behavior. The intervention students will experience carefully designed garden based lessons integrated into the normal curriculum. To measure the project's success, we use a n on equivalent control groups design where the control group will learn through the regular curriculum. Using survey and tests, we will take measures of change throu gh indicators: stress, anxiety and attention span. We will also look at final records for changes in attendance and recorded misbehavior. T his enrichment program is a sm all investment to make, to improve wellness, functioning, and behaviors early on in students' academic careers, preventing the demonstrated hardships that these children may endure in the future.
Proposal Statement of Need Spa rr Elementary School is a public school located in Marion County, Florida, that serves approximately 400 students from the rural communities of Sparr and Citra. The school is very small and only has 4 main buildings (includes a cafeteria and media center) and 3 portables. Sparr is a Title I school, with students ranging from pre kindergarten through 5 th grade; Title I schools are defined by a large low income enrollment (>40%) and receive federal Title I funds for school improvement. Distressingly, around 7 8.5 percent of the students at Sparr were designated as economically disadvantaged (versus the 53.5% state average) for the 2009 2010 academic year, almost double the minimum requireme nts for Title I status. According to the Florida Department of Educati on (2011), students in every applicable grade (other than 3rd & 5th grade math) scored lower on the FCAT in all subjects (reading, math, science, and writing) compared to the averages for both Marion County and the State of Florida. This pilot focuses on r emedial 3rd grade students at Sparr as our target population. These students have scored will be attending a 6 week long summer school session. This target gro up aggregates students with the highest educational need at Sparr, particularly in reading, for our pilot. Positive results from this exploratory study will thereby be supportive of expanding the project to other grades and subjects. One of the most robus t and well documented connections in the social sciences, is the one between socioeconomic status and health disparities (NCCP, 2011). Previous studies have found that children who live below the poverty line are more likely to experience emotional and beh avioral problems, externalizing in the form of acting out, aggression, and fighting, or internalizing through anxiety, social withdrawal, and feelings of unhappiness (Brooks Gunn, 1997). A study by Lupien, et al. showed that lower SES children report great er exposure to stressful life events and a greater impact of these events on their lives as presented through significantly higher levels of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone (Lupien, 2000). Anxiety and stress may even manifest itself in lower attention spans and decreased retention abilities. Impoverished children tend to also have lower measures in cognitive ability, with increased risks of learning disabilities, developmental delays, and lower overall intelligence as measured by IQ tests (Brooks Gunn, 1997 and Qi, 2003). It has been shown that lower SES children start their education at a disadvantage, in systematically lower quality elementary schools compared to their more privileged peers (Lee, 2002). In terms of school achievement outcomes, these is sues from poverty translate into increased rates of grade repetition, suspension/expulsions, and school dropout (Brooks Gunn, 1997). Sparr Elementary, with 78.5% of their students economically disadvantaged in a rural setting, has a large population at gre at risk for these issues. This enrichment program is a small investment to make, to possibly improve wellness, functioning, and behaviors early on in students' academic careers, to prevent the demonstrated hardships that these children may endure in the fu ture. This school garden project was created using evidence based information from various studies that support a relationship between direct/indirect experiences with nature and improvements in mental wellness, cognitive functioning, and behavior. For ex ample, there are benefits in mood, mental fatigue recovery, and positive effects on emotion, cognition and health (NRPA, 2010). One study indicated that variable s like activity, and demographics like age, gender, income, and severity of condition. Other studies have shown better performance on association tasks, like faster reaction time and reduction in distraction (Han, 2009). On an emotional level, interaction with nature was conducive to stress recovery and resilience as measured by indicators: lower cortisol, pulse rate, and blood pressure, greater parasympathetic and lower sympathetic nerve activity (NRPA, 2010) According to many areas of research, our approa ch of building a school garden in which children can learn with, alongside, and
in is an excellent avenue to improve the learning environment for students at Sparr. We believe that the data from this project will indicate positive changes in mental welln ess, cognitive functioning, and behavior via this specially designed learning environment. Our issue at hand is an important one; one in five children live in families below the federal poverty level in the United States. Closer to home, the rate is even h igher in the state of Florida, at one in four. Socioeconomic status should not be a factor in whether a child receives the best possible education, but it is. In collaborating with elementary school teachers, administration and the community, we want the c hance to try and mediate that effect. Goals and Objectives Goal : T o increase the available data on the effects of an integrated garden curriculum on students' mental wellness, cognitive function, and behavior. Objectives : Preparation Objectives 1. Flower be ds will be assembled and gardens will be prepared before the first day of school. 2. At least 10 different garden based lessons will be created in time for the first day of school. 3. At least 80% of the students will return a positive informed consent form for the study. Intervention Objectives 1. At least 90% of participants that returned a positive informed consent complete the pre intervention assessment. 2. At least 8 to students out of a maximum 10 3. All participating studen ts will have attended at least 6 4. All participating students will have attended 80% of total days of class for the morning activity. 5. At least 90% of participants that returned a positive informed consent complete the post intervention assessment. Expected Outcomes : As outcomes of the garden program, results from the stated objectives above will show that students surveyed: Improved mental wellness through the indicators of reduced anxiety and stress as measured by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) for Children (Spielberger) and the Amended Perceived Restorative Components Scale for Children (Bagot), respectively. Improved cognitive function through the indicator of attention span, as measured by the Stroop Test for Children. Improved behavior al outcomes through the indicators of rec orded incidences of misconduct, attendance compared to past records, and active participation rate as noted qualitatively by the instructor. Methods and Program Design An experiment will be conducted to assess the effects of a school garden and integrated curriculum on 3 rd grade remedial students' mental wellness, cognitive function, and behavior. We will utilize and build upon a currently existing small garden on the school's grounds. Teachers occasionally use the produce garden as a teaching tool, however, instructors do not have specifically designed procedures for incorporating the garden into curricula. We wish to expand this project through the addition of flower beds and an instructor planning program to hav e evidence based lesson plans created for garden based teaching. The testing period will take place at Sparr Elementary School, with the collaboration of the teachers and administration, during the remedial summer school session. From inception to end anal ysis, the pilot study will last from April September 2012, completed in time for the Graduate Student (NSF) Research Day poster session in October 2012. In the time available (April, May, and the start of June) before the first day of summer school,
the t eam will prepare the space and materials needed for the program. The team, with the help of volunteers, will place, build, and fill flower beds as needed for the bloom expansion part of the program. Additionally, the team, our education consult, and the in tervention instructor will meet to develop and plan program specific lessons that will integrate well with the existing curriculum. Most importantly, we will obtain informed consent from the intervention and control students and their parent(s) or guardian (s) before the start of the study The quasi experimental pilot will be conducted with two 3 rd g rade classes, of approximately 2 0 students each, at Sparr Elementary for the duration of 5 weeks. Summer sessions meet 4 days out of the week, Monday through Thursday for 6 weeks One of the two classes will participate in the garden lessons and the other will have their normal lessons as planned, serving as a control. This is study The first week of school will be used for gathering parental informed consent. During the beginning of the second week, prior to the first program activity, the team will conduct initial pre program assessments and surveys with the participants in both intervention and control groups. At this point, the control class will receive no further involvement from the study team until the end of the 6 week period. The first activity in the intervention group will occur after the pre tests and will consist of a short introductio n to the new garden area as well as a planting activity. Beginning the third week through the fifth week, the students will participate in an activity every day (weather permitting) that allows for indirect or direct contact with the garden for approximate ly 15 minutes at the beginning of the day. This may include hand watering the plants, garden management, or reading outside in the vicinity of the garden area Additionally, there will be 3 garden based lessons each week 3 5 During the sixth week, there w ill a post program assessment with the participants in both intervention and control groups. Further research can also be conducted from the program base of adding flower beds, a new composting setup, and an instructor planning project. In addition to exp anding this pilot study to a multi class year long assessment, we can also study nutrition behavior. A large number of the students at Sparr receive two meals daily from the school cafeteria. With the additional composting setup, participation in school ga rden activities will not only allow students to understand their meals under the farm to to literacy will encourage students to use this knowledge in making informed food decisions. The study will assess changes in knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes toward eating healthy foods including but not limited to fruits and vegetables. We can also measure whether an increase in food literacy will mediate the impacts of food advert ising. Evaluation Evaluation of the success of this pilot study will be measured by reviewing and analyzing the data obtained from pre and post assessments as well as records and qualitative input. Since this study has a nonequivalent control group de sign, we must also remember to account for a possible positive effect on both intervention and control, since the controls will be able to have indirect contact with the garden. Data will be collected at the beginning and end of the 5 week active session (weeks 2 of 6 and 6 of 6) The data collected will include the results of s urveys mentioned in the Methods section. Subjective qualitative information will be taken for the participation indicator, behavior, from the instructor who will make comparisons to previous experiences with the student(s). Data for the indicators absenteeism and behavioral misconduct will be tallied at the end of the 6 weeks and compared to school records for each student. Analysis will occur after the 6 weeks are finished through S AS or SPSS statistical packages for applicable data. Qualitative data that cannot be input into statistical software will be documented and reported in the final assessment paper/poster/other medium. Data analysis will be the responsibility of the Key Pers onnel.
Key Personnel William Schmahl is a first year Master of Science student in Soil and Water Science, with a concentration in Hydrology. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Florida. William will be responsible for land assessment, garden mapping and design, as well as field construction. He will work on many of the tangible aspects of the program, utilizing his knowledge of surface soils and irrigation technique as they apply to agriculture. He may also be involved in s elect areas of classroom instruction in the case of science related topics, for example. Lastly, William will be the contact for reporting of the interim reporting benchmarks. Jeffrey Brantley is a third year undergraduate student, majoring in Soil and Wa ter Science. He will assist and be mentored by William Schmahl. Jeffrey will also work on the tangible aspects of the program Bonnie Lam is a second year Master of Public Health student, with a concentration in Epidemiology. She also holds a Bachelor of S cience in Health Education from the University of Florida. Bonnie will be responsible for tending to the socio behavioral study design and data analysis of the program and study. Consultant(s): A student from the College of Education, majoring in Elementa ry Education at the University of Florida will be enlisted to help in creating lessons toward a garden integrated curriculum for the summer session. Mentorship : Jeffrey Brantley will be mentored by William Schmahl in the areas pertaining to Soil and Water Science. Mr. Schmahl is currently a student in this subject area. An Elementary Education student will be mentored by Bonnie Lam in areas pertaining to lesson development and teaching technique. Ms. Lam holds a degree in Health Education; she has experienc e in lesson development in health related topics and teaching in elementary schools through extensive training and participation in an anti tobacco campaign. Resumes are available for review at the end of this application packet. Equipment and Facilities Sparr Elementary has provided the research team access to the school facilities and grounds to build the program and conduct our research. The program will require the construction of raised beds for plants, which will require inputs such as lumber, soil, starter plants, and seeds. These inputs are detailed in the budget. Sparr Elementary has a community sponsorship with local business Sparr Building and Farm Supply which will be able to provide the program with donated or reduced price materials. No inten sive use of equipment or other specialized facilities will be required. Brooks Gunn, J. (1997). The effects of poverty on children. The Future of Children, 7:2, 55 71. Florida Department of Education. (2011). FCAT Results for Sparr Elementary, Marion County [Data File]. Retrieved from: http://fcat.fldoe.org/results Han, K. T. (2009). Influence of limitedly visible leafy indoor plants on the psychology, behavio r, and health of students at a junior high school in Taiwan. Environment and Behavior, 41:5, 658 692 Lee, V. E. (2002). Inequality at the starting gate: Social background differences in achievement as children begin school. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute. Lupien, S. J. (2000). essive state. Society of Biological Psychiatry, 48, 976 980. National Center for Children in Poverty. (2011). Who are America's poor children? New York, NY: Seith, D. Nationa l Recreation and Park Association. (2010). Parks and other green environments: es sential components of a health human habitat Ashburn, VA: Kuo, F. E. Qi, C. H. (2003). Behavior problems of preschool children from low income families: review of the lite rature Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23:4, 188 216.
Timeline Late April 2012 We will begin work toward this project as soon as this grant is approved. Our priorities are to create an informed consent form to send home with participat ing children and enlisting an undergraduate consultant from the College of Education. May 2012 Most of the preparation work will be completed at this time. We will enlist the help of volunteers to place, build, and fill flower beds as needed for the bloom expansion part of the program. Our team will also assemble to develop and plan program specific lessons with the intervention instructor. There will be some initial training to script the testing day, to make sure everything goes smoothly. May 25, 2012 T he last Friday in May, we will submit our first interim benchmark report detailing the preparation that has been completed, what still needs to be done, as well as an update on the budget. June 11, 2012 The first day of the summer session begins. The inte rvention follows the steps in the Methods section. June 29, 2012 The last Friday in June, we will submit our second interim benchmark report detailing the intervention (program difficulties and successes) up to that point in time, as well as an update on the budget. July 19, 2012 The final day of the summer session. Data organization and analysis will begin immediately after this last day. July 27, 2012 The last Friday in July, we will submit our third interim benchmark report detailing the intervention' s difficulties and successes up to that point in time, the status of data analysis and initial findings if any, as well as an update on the budget. August 2012 Data analysis continues during this month. August 31, 2012 The last Friday in August, we will submit our fourth interim benchmark report detailing the status of data analysis and any important findings up to this point, as well as an update on the budget. September 2012 We anticipate that data analysis will be finished at this point in time. The t eam will compile the data in a formal report and create a poster for presenting at the Graduate Student (NSF) Research Day. Once complete, we will also submit a fifth and final report on the project and budget.
Supplementary Materials Detail ed Budget The budget for our grant project mainly focuses on the materials needed to build a learning flower garden at Sparr elementary school, a title 1 school in rural North Marion County. The school flower garden involves 3 sets of raised flower beds b uilt utilizing pressure treated lumber, a few landscape rocks, topsoil, irrigation lines and flowers either grown by the children or purchased locally. The other parts of our budget include 2 undergraduate stipends, travel expenses, supplies for teaching o ver 5 weeks such as books and printing materials and poster creation for conferences. The undergraduate stipend will be for possibly two undergraduate students, one from the soil and water department to assist with the science aspect of the project and the other from the education department to work with the learning research. Each student would receive a $250 stipend for the project. The breakdown is as follows: Materials ( for b uilding the learning garden ) 25 ach =$246.75 25 20 ~10 yards of topsoil @ $25/load = $250.00 Plastic watering can 6 @ $5.97/each = $35.82 Various flowers estimated needs 200 flats @ $1.99/flat = $398.00 Delivery one time charge of $79.00 Total building materials = $1,267.06 Teaching supplies 30 kids notebooks @ $.79/notebook = $23.70 1 set of printer toner = $59.99 1 box printer paper = $39.99 Total teaching supplies = $123.68 Total cost of materials and supplies = $1390.74
Budget for Capacity of a School Garden Integrated Curriculum to Benefit (Title I) Elementary Students' Mental Wellness, Cognitive Functioning, and Behavior Stipends 2 undergraduate stipends @ $250 each = $500 Travel expenses 20 trips to school (6 weeks x 3 trips a week maximum plus 2 initial trips) from Gainesville estimated 59 miles roundtrip @ .45/mile = $531.00 Conference cos ts Research Materials Licenses for use of copyrighted research evaluation surveys = $280.00 Requested total for entire grant = $ 2 766.74 The overall total exceeded the $2,500 grant limit however both graduate s tudents attended a for lumber can vary day by day so those figures may change Letters of Support Faculty Advisors Please see other attachments. Team Resumes Please see other attachments.