About Learning Gardens


Science in the Learning Gardens

Hundreds of gardens across the country are underutilized as contexts for active academic engagement in middle grades. School gardens provide important cultural milieus while addressing environmental and food issues. Equally significant, they are sites for learning school subjects.

The Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) project brings underrepresented middle-school youth from Portland Public Schools (PPS) into underused school gardens at a critical time in their intellectual development, to broaden the factors that support their interest and motivation in STEM learning.

This website serves both as an overview of research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and as a web portal for teachers, curriculum coordinators and other educators with an interest in the Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) curriculum. For an overview of our work, please click here to download our flyer.


Thank you for your interest in the SciLG curriculum! In order to download our resources, we ask that you provide us with your name and a valid e-mail address. We hope to build community around this curriculum; to that end, we may contact you to hear about your experiences using it, as well as to collect your feedback.



Science in the Learning Gardens

Factors that Support Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Success in Low-Income Middle Schools

PI: Dilafruz Williams
Co-PIs: Sybil Kelley, Cary Sneider, Ellen Skinner
Funded by: National Science Foundation-DRL/DRK12 # 1418
September 1, 2014-August 31, 2017


Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) proposes to address two inter-related educational needs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) that are well-documented: underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minority students (henceforth, minority students); and inadequacies of curriculum and pedagogy to address their cultural and motivational needs. By focusing on 6th – 8th grade science that will be aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to cover Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas articulated with school gardens as the milieu for learning, SciLG will study factors that support success of minority students (e.g., relatedness, competence, and purpose and autonomy) using a theoretical model of motivational engagement.

Project Goals

  • To design and implement Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) curriculum that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), using school gardens as learning contexts in grades 6, 7, and 8.
  • To investigate the extent to which SciLG project activities predict students’ STEM identity, motivation, learning, and grades in science using a model of motivational development.


SciLG is implemented in grade 6 (2014-15), grade 7 (2015-16), and grade 8 (2016-17) in two urban schools. It is supported by science teachers and a multidisciplinary team of university educators and community members.




Science in the Learning Gardens Scientific 2016

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Professional Development