At Westtown, school isn’t just preparation for life: school is real life.
Inquiry, innovation, collaboration, creativity, problem solving: these are the skills we teach students as they become change agents and leaders of a better world. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way we teach about food systems, ecology, and innovative design in all three divisions.
Lower School: Dirty Hands, Active Minds
- In our beautiful native plant gardens certified by the National Wildlife Federation, students observe the connections among native plants, insects, small mammals, and human ecology, while learning how to design and maintain the gardens.
- All grades visit the 1-acre organic student farm, and participate in the cycle of food production: seeding, planting, harvesting, and preparing meals.
- Each grade grows crops that connect to the curriculum: Peruvian potatoes, the Three Sisters (corn, beans, squash), and salsa ingredients for Spanish class. At the Fall Harvest festival, students prepare a feast to share with their parents.
- Each class saves seeds from the harvest to pass on to the next grade for planting in the new school year, completing the cycle.
Middle School: Taking Systems Thinking to the Next Level
- The compost system at the student farm becomes the laboratory, where science classes examine the essential role played by macro invertebrates, fungi, bacteria, and other micro organisms that make up healthy soil.
- 6th grade science classes are held outside bi-weekly in the fall and spring where students experience the whole food growing cycle.
- Students in the Environmental club maintain and harvest the dining hall herb garden, while learning about the properties of the plants they are growing, and then take home samples to their families.
In Upper School: Young Minds Engaged in Designing the Future
- In Research Ecology and Environmental Science, students design their own studies such as conducting tree surveys of the 600-acre campus and evaluating water quality of Chester Creek.
- Advanced Chemistry students examine the importance and impact on food production of electrochemistry and oxidation reduction reactions in the soil.
- Students with engineering aspirations gravitate to the Design and Engineering course, a seminar in which students identify and tackle a real-world problem with ingenuity, creativity, and mathematical know-how.
- Students are deeply involved in the design and layout of Westtown's farm, including building an outdoor pizza oven.