Project A.C.O.R.N. (Alamo-area Children Organized to Replant Natives) is the educationally
structured planting of native trees by children.
Students plant seeds gathered from local, native trees growing wild in natural areas without benefit of irrigation which are most likely to have superior traits for survival. Historic trees and champion trees are additional seed sources. Other native plants will be grown as a diverse community around each tree including under-story trees, vines, shrubs, wildflowers, bulbs, and ground covers to function as restored migration stations for species such as Monarch Butterflies providing students with high interest opportunities to observe and record seasonal cycles in nature.
Students plant the collected seeds in recycled soda bottles during state science curriculum studies on topics such as soil characteristics, plant life cycles, and natural resources.
During the course of continuous school years,students monitor water, soil, and air conditions at the planting site during periodic walking-field trips to observe and collect the measurements for tree survival and herbivory as a joint research project with the city and state agencies. Students take measurements using protocols and standardized scientific tools through NASA, NOAA, and NSF sponsored GLOBE program, the Smithsonian Institutes Climate Tree Banding study. The Students record observations and analyze any correlation of air, water, and soil temperatures, cloud cover and cloud type, dissolved oxygen, pH levels, conductivity, turbidity, GPS, rainfall, wind-speed and direction, relative humidity, barometric pressure, etc with the local ecosystem over time. Students are given the opportunity to collaborate with other students studying and collecting similar data through technology in different areas that are local as well as global. Students are taught through multi-disciplinary academics along with leadership, and teamwork with cooperative problem solving and communication skills. It is intended to encourage and provide continued academic success while in school as well as post-graduate as they become citizen scientists and better informed community decision makers.
Best educational practice through “hands on lab” and field investigations engage students in real life applications of knowledge, understanding, and skills. Teachers are given the opportunity to support students through inquiry, project based learning and thinking strategies provided by nationally acclaimed support curriculum and activities on environment from Council for Environmental Education and American Forest Foundation such as, Project Wild and Project Learning Tree. Although this community outreach activity emphasizes the service of planting trees native to the local area with many attendant benefits, Project ACORN’s primary function is to channel the excitement generated during the events into the development of new and successful tree planters and environmental stewards.