DATE:  October 1, 2007       
CONTACT: r. Christine Marroquin 361.825.5953; or Steve Paschal, 361.825.2336

New Experimental Garden to Function as Outdoor Classroom for Early Childhood Development Center Students and Teachers

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In the near future, elementary school children at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will be able to cross-pollinate flowers, use certain nutrients to yield bigger vegetables and conduct other experiments through its new Experimental Garden.

The College of Education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will hold a dedication ceremony for its Educational Center for Math and Science Experimental Garden Friday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m. near the entrance of the Early Childhood Development Center. The garden will provide an outdoor classroom that employs a hands-on, minds-on learning approach to encourage students to continue their personal experimentation through future careers in mathematics and science.
The Experimental Garden, funded by a grant from the Earl C. Sams and Behmann Brothers Foundations, will serve as an outdoor classroom for ECDC students with a focus on environmental education. University faculty will utilize the garden to help aspiring teachers learn how to create learning experiences beyond their classrooms.

“Children retain 90 percent of what they learn when given the opportunities to hear, observe and participate in the learning process,” said Dr. Christine Marroquin, principal of the Early Childhood Development Center. “As educators, we need to understand and realize that classroom instruction goes beyond the school walls and reaches out to the world around us allowing children to learn from actual field experiences.”

Marroquin added that the Experimental Garden, which will emphasize soil experiments, will be the first of three outdoor classrooms. Future outdoor classrooms will focus on air and water.

The garden will also engage students in scientific, inquiry-based learning on how plant life is vital to ecosystems in our world.