Initiative at Qatar Academy Al Khor is nurturing students' passion for science and math by encouraging them to cultivate microgreens and film their progress
Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic having led to the closure of schools in Qatar, the e-learning measures implemented at Qatar Foundation are preventing disruption to children’s education – and opening up new pathways to knowledge.
The pandemic has seen educational staff at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) schools develop innovative methods that are enabling students to continue the process of learning from their homes and reinforce their passion for science. Among them is an initiative introduced by Boshra Rasti Ghalati, a teacher at Qatar Academy Al Khor, part of QF’s Pre-University Education.
She has created a new way of teaching students mathematics from home, by planting microgreen plants in her house, and filming videos showing how they grow day by day. “When we started e- learning at Qatar Academy Al Khor, I decided to motivate my students to grow microgreens at home to support their learning,” she explains.
“I recorded a daily video of plant growth in my home, and the students were so excited that they decided to also do this themselves with the support of their parents.
The enthusiasm of the students who planted the microgreens and sent me pictures that show how they grow every day has actually surprised me.
"At the end of each day, I assign students the task of solving two mathematical issues related to what they have learned through this initiative, or writing about their experience, which has made teaching more flexible. This form of teaching can also work well as a collaborative project, where teachers in disciplines like art or the Arabic language assign students tasks related to a collaborative neighborhood project that is implemented remotely, and jointly.”
Ghalati became acquainted with microgreens for the first time at Torba Farmers Market, a Qatar-based initiative that delivers organic and locally-grown food and homemade products. Microgreens are dense young plants that are harvested after less than one month of germination and can be taken as herbs or added to juices.
Practical teaching of this kind can present a challenge, but we have been well-equipped to do this as teachers.
She says the educational microgreens project has motivated her students to experiment on a daily basis. "The enthusiasm of the students who planted the microgreens and sent me pictures that show how they grow every day has actually surprised me,” she said. “They are proud of the results, and it is also an activity which allows their parents to get involved in their children’s learning as they helped them to grow the plants.
“I am very fortunate to be part of QF, which has a progressive approach to education. Practical teaching of this kind can present a challenge, but we have been well-equipped to do this as teachers. QF’s education system is based on recognizing how students learn differently, and it supports the development of scalable projects that can be taught across various topics.
"The progressive approach to education encourages teachers to use technology as a necessary means of education, not as an option, and we are now seeing how a large proportion of students respond well to this type of learning. Distance learning has been imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are driving it forward, adapting it to what is important and useful to us and to all members of society.
“It is a very sustainable method of education, and one that motivates students to integrate, participate, and enjoy learning. "