The DeKalb Academy of Technology and the Environment (DATE) curriculum is a hands-on, minds-on, problem-solving, inquiry-based, integrated curriculum which will provide students with a foundation for understanding the world and their place in it. The environment, both natural and built, is the context for this curriculum, and technology is the means by which students will come to know, understand, and care for the environment which sustains us all.

Three unifying principles ground this curriculum: place-based education, educating for sustainability, and making connections.

Imagine each of these three principles as one leg of a tripod which supports the D.A.T.E. curriculum; each is essential to maintaining the curriculum’s integrity and balance. As much of the curriculum as possible is focused on the children’s own place, using the school and its environs, local neighborhoods and parks, and other features of Dekalb and DeKalb County as educational resources and learning environments.

Project-Based

20150903_094628_resizedEach grade is engaged in projects of varying lengths throughout the year. Projects for each grade are a vehicle for integrated learning, as each grade’s garden project is designed to address state standards across the four core curriculum areas while integrating art and technology. The goal is to expand students’ understanding of the environment as they move through the nine D.A.T.E. grades.
All grades will also be involved in an ongoing school-wide garden project on our eight acre campus. The project will also provide stimulating opportunities for diverse technology use, from “low tech” instruments such as trowels and hoes to “high tech” equipment such as tablets and digital photography to lay out garden plots and investigate our environment. Here are some examples of how D.A.T.E.’s three fundamental principles will ground the school garden project.

Place Based Education

In developmentally appropriate ways, students will investigate questions such as:

 

  • What can we grow here in our soil and climate in this part of Georgia?
  • Who in our community can be most helpful to us in meeting our garden project goals?
  •  How can we serve our community through our efforts?

3photo-e1347675041401

Making Connections

IMG_0121Making connections is how the brain learns and increases its capabilities. Making connections is how the ecosystems of the global environment are maintained. Making connections has been the result, if not the goal, of technology for millennia, from increased interaction, including commerce, between ancient cultures from the invention of hydropower to wireless telecommunications of the present day. 

Educating for Sustainability

DSC_0939Composting and raising chickens is just one example of how our school garden projects help students experience and understand connections which also apply to the community beyond the school and to the biosphere as a whole.
Students grow food in the garden that can be used in school lunches. A student designed and maintained lunch composting program brings food waste back to the school gardens for soil enhancement.
This completes a cycle and offers a plethora of opportunities for learning about a variety of broad-ranging yet interrelated topics from nutrient cycling in an ecosystem to municipal waste management.
IMG_0883
The school garden project provides opportunities for interdisciplinary individual, small-group, and full-class projects as well as “buddies” collaboration between grades, thereby enhancing the sense of the community at DATE. It is also a project for the larger community. Community members including local garden experts participate in our garden, providing advice and guidance. Parents also volunteer to work with students to maintain the gardens over the summer. The school garden project is the hallmark manifestation of DATE’s unifying principles of place-based education, educating for sustainability, and making connections in an environmental context using technology.