VA Students Show Off How Much They Dig Science and Healthy Eating

More than 150 Virginia students enjoyed the fruits of their garden labor on November 16, as part of American Education Week.

For Immediate Release – November 16, 2017

For more information, contact ANS Teacher Ellen McDougall at [email protected] or cell, 703-585-9179, or ANS Communications Director Caroline Brewer at [email protected] or cell, 202-830-5115

Sterling, VA – How do you get young people to dig science and eat healthy? Let them literally dig into the topic using shovels, seeds, compost, worms, water hoses, and training on how to grow something edible.

That’s the art and science behind Salad Science, an Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) program that’s sprouting love for nature and healthy eating by blending indoor and outdoor education with harvest parties. In celebration of hands-on science projects and American Education Week, around lunchtime at their school on Thursday, November 16, more than 150 Sully Elementary students in Sterling, VA (Loudoun County Public Schools District) harvested mature lettuce and made and ate salads from it.

5th graders and kindergartners at Sully planted lettuce seeds in September and watered and watched them sprout and grow inside large wooden beds in the school’s courtyard. Week by week, as the seeds grew, the students learned about plant life cycles, habitats, worms, decomposition, composting, nutrition, and much more. They made predictions, recorded their observations in journals and now have a better understanding of where food comes from and what it takes to get it to the table.

ANS Environmental Educator Ellen McDougall said Salad Science is a big deal for the students because they have fun while learning about the complex aspects of plant biology and nutrition.

“Salad Science has had many cross-curricular touch points – everything from science, math, art, and general health and nutrition. Eating a rainbow of toppings and discussing edible parts of a plant are key themes of the program. And students love eating salads made with the lettuces that they have grown with their friends,” McDougall said.

The Salad Science program has been a hit in Montgomery County for at least a decade and has now spread to schools in D.C. and Virginia. McDougall said Salad Science is also a great way to get kids to work together. After learning how to plant and take care of the lettuce, the 5th graders underwent “teacher training” and taught the kindergarteners how to make a garden grow. Both grades tended the garden and will party together with their harvest.

“I’m excited to see how this unique project will affect students at both grade levels,” she said. “The teaching teams believe Salad Science will become part of the school’s culture of working together to make progress.”

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About ANS: ANS is the oldest, independent environmental organization in the DMV. Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Learn more about ANS here:, Naturalist SocietyNaturalistSociety, and