Prairie Project

What was your driving question?

How might we engage and inform the community about Fairview Prairie?

Grades Involved

Grades 3th & 4th

How did this project connect to your local or regional community?

Students wanted to convert part of their schoolyard that wasn’t used but was mowed back to native prairie grasses and plants. This is a neighborhood school, so the community around the school will be able to see and access this area.

What PBE principles were highlighted in this project?

Learner-Centered, Design Thinking, Community as Classroom, and Interdisciplinary Approach

Project Description

This project started last year. As 3rd graders, students learned about different ecosystems, including the prairie. They visited an area near their school that had been converted from grass you mow to a native prairie. They wanted to plant a prairie at Fairview. Students researched, contacted experts in the community and surveyed stakeholders about the possibility of this project going forward, and wrote letters to district officials explaining why they wanted a prairie and why it would work. They measured the area of different places the prairie might go, collected data on the amount of sunlight the areas got and gathered information about who uses the area and for what purpose. They spoke with the administration about where they thought the prairie should go and sought feedback. Once the site was chosen they presented their pitch to district officials for final approval. At this point, the students were getting ready to move on to 4th grade. The students went to the 4th-grade teaching team to request that this project move with them to 4th grade and the team agreed. Students worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation to prepare the plot for planting. This year students had their first seeding of the area. They created informational pamphlets about the prairie building process for the neighborhood, so they know what is going on with the field in which their prairie is being planted. They wanted people to know that this is a prairie in progress, so they will understand why the area isn’t being mowed and what it will be in the future.


How did this positively impact the community? How was it shared?

The community will have a beautiful prairie to visit. They shared this through informational brochures about the process they are following to build their prairie. More communication will go out as the prairie matures.

Reflection: What was the biggest challenge? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?

The biggest challenge is that it takes YEARS to build a prairie. The most rewarding aspect is seeing the students take ownership of the project and carry the project with them from one year to the next with different teachers.

Any advice for a teacher or student that is implementing a PBE project for the first time?

Go with the flow…things are going to come up that you don’t expect. They usually lead to more or deeper learning.

Follow the student’s passion. It makes the project more engaging for everyone.