The Phasm Science Garden begun life in 2003 as a concept for assisting schools in teaching Key stage one and two of the UK National Curriculum. The original literature described the project as:
“A compact modular unit designed to aid teaching of key stage one and two of the United Kingdoms National Curriculum.”
The robust modular design allows for ease of installation onto any flat surface* that provides a minimum floor space of 6m x 5m. Furthermore the compartmentalization of the habitats permits for ease of maintenance and modification to address individual school/teacher requirements or future changes to the National Curriculum.
Complimented by posters, teaching notes and experimental suggestions the garden is a comprehensive tool that can directly assist in teaching over 10 of the Science Units in Key Stage 1 & 2 of the National Curriculum .
A Comprehensive Tool
Using three typical soil types the phasm science garden provides examples of seven different habitat zones.
Planted with flora to reflect the respective habitats the PSG gives clear examples of the physical and botanical indicators of both managed and natural habitats in the UK*.
This variation and diversity further supports a wealth of resident insects and other soil fauna whilst also acting as a haven for passing wildlife such as migratory and seasonal birds and butterflies.
Recognising the need for flexibility the phasm science garden includes two cultivated zones for the conducting of experiments and demonstration growing. When not in use the zones can be covered or used to provide seasonal colour to compliment the permanent planting.
The meadow, woodland, maritime and wetland zones provide clear examples and ease of comparison between managed and natural habitats.
The additional of a seventh fungal logs zone provides both the habitat for insects and soil fauna to thrive whilst also providing a clear opportunity to demonstrate the concept of return, invaluable in teaching seasonal and life cycle concepts.
From simple botanical morphology to complex communal interactions the PSG provides all the tools and opportunities to teach the environmental and biological basics to first year infants whilst simultaneously allowing for older more advanced students to explore the interactions and dependencies of the natural environment to a level than exceeds the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Not just a teaching aid the PSG has been designed to provide an opportunity for the next generation to develop a lasting love, understanding and appreciation of the natural world they inhabit.
A Virtual Community
Moving beyond the school gate the PSG is fully supported by a wealth of virtual and interactive material that permits schools and students to develop and explore joint and regional projects with other local, national and international schools and institutions.
With the PSG small, isolated and under-funded schools can share and spread teaching resources so as to maximise them to the benefit of their students whilst simultaneously instilling at an early age the concept of community and the benefits of co-operation within that community.
Easy to Install and Maintain
With a compact modular design the science garden fits comfortable into a level area of 5m x 6m. Once a site has been prepared the whole system can be installed and operational in only two days. Similarly easy to maintain, with full instructions and online support no horticultural experience or knowledge is required. With as little as 1hours work per week the garden can be kept fully operational and in constant use for more than ten years only ½ hr work per week.
Rising from the Ashes!
Shelved for over seven years due to lack of political interest and the incompetence of UK and European funding initiatives the PSG has remained nothing more than a personal concept of the author. However as a consequence of renewed interest in Europe the concept has now been revived and, subject to obtaining the necessary funding, may now be designed as a European rather than a UK project.
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