Design Technology – Sustainability Unit – Water Focus

Design Technology – Sustainability Unit – Water Focus

This semester I had the pleasure of working with a teacher named Jim Harper on a Sustainability Unit in his Design Technology course. We were able to involve the entire Middle Years group: 6th, 7th and 8th grades. The aim of our course was (and still is) to actually utilize the school garden for teaching and food (last year it was a monoculture of sunflowers). In this unit we found that having the students create and design a salsa garden would fulfill many of our needs with a fairly low maintenance garden over the summer months. In the fall we intend to teach the students to make and can salsa. We incorporated sustainability into the design project by focusing on water and discussing alternative ways to use it. The design element of the course then broke down as follows.

– 6th grade: irrigation and garden plan

– 7th grade: water movement from cistern to garden

– 8th grade: rain barrel water collection design

This project offered many opportunities for students to spend time in the garden and work on a small water capture project while considering the implications of water use on a larger scale.

Mr. Harper and his students prepare on the the beds for planting

Mr. Harper and his students prepare one of the beds for planting


Over the course of the spring Mr. Harper and his students have been growing cool weather components of the salsa such as onions and garlic. At the end of May, I got to attend the 6th grade DT class and we planted the warm weather garden components (peppers and tomatoes) that I had started from seed at the beginning of spring – -next year I hope to facilitate an Elementary School class to start seeds for the garden in their classroom!


Already I am excited about using and planning the garden for next year! Mrs. Stilinovich and Senora Vallejos are willing to contribute to starting the garden by helping start seedlings in their classroom next year. Perhaps next year we could focus the Sustainability Unit of Design Tech on garden season extension – cold-frames and hoop-houses anyone?