Children Citizen Science Health

2023 January: Children

Colourful signage and picket fence make for a bright welcome to the Children’s Garden. Photo by Lorne Abugov. Reproduced from The MainStreeter community newspaper.

Ottawa’s First Dedicated Children’s Garden Is An Oasis of Green and Growth

One of the delights of living in Old Ottawa East is its proximity to green spaces and natural beauty. Since 2008, Robert Legget Park has been transformed into Ottawa’s first dedicated Children’s Garden. A veritable oasis of green and growth, the Garden represents a true community effort, with contributions from many local groups. As is appropriate for a Children’s Garden, students at Lady Evelyn Alternative School undertook research and design work, which resulted in the garden plan. As well, each fence picket was painted by a student at the school. Improvements were made in 2017 and, more recently, a garden manager was hired. This is also a teaching garden. Jennifer San from Let’s Talk Science at uOttawa and CarletonU and Hannah Keefe from Frontier College Ottawa were on hand on a particularly lovely day in early July to offer their expertise. A group of enthusiastic children gathered around the seating circle and were spellbound while Keefe read The Giving Tree by The Giving Tree . She and San then encouraged the children to think about the story and what they can do to appreciate and respect nature. The children then dashed around the Garden to find a leaf that interested them. Back at the table, they were given a chunk of clay to roll out and press their leaves into to create an impression. The children summed up the activity with enthusiasm: “excellent, fun, great, helpful knowledge.”

School garden-based interventions can improve blood sugar, reduce bad cholesterol in children

School garden-based interventions can improve metabolic parameters such as blood sugar and cholesterol in children, according to a new study from UTHealth Houston. A cluster randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers with UTHealth Houston School of Public Health and The University of Texas at Austin found that Texas Sprouts—a gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention implemented in elementary schools in Austin—improved glucose control and reduced bad cholesterol in high-risk minority youth. The results were published in JAMA Network Open.

A new project by the Royal Horticultural Society aims to find out the best species of hedge to plant in urban areas. Photograph: RHS Images/PA

Scientist enlists pupils to see how hedges can make greener schools

Ever thought there should be more hedges in playgrounds? A group of urban schoolchildren are going to be taking part in a scientific study to see what impact a hedge can have. A project by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) aims to find out the best species of hedge to plant in urban areas, so it can be rolled out across state schools that suffer from air pollution and a lack of green space. Dr Tijana Blanusa, the RHS principal scientist, decided to carry out her research in schools after realising her two children had very little access to nature at their urban state primary. The children will be involved in learning more about the role of plants in reducing flood risks, improving air quality and summertime cooling – either by using a new online tool made by the RHS or through hands-on science sessions in school, led by the science team. However, there will be a control group of children without access to the hedge, to see the difference having green space makes.

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