Learning about photosynthesis and the migratory patterns of birds can take a whole new meaning under the cool shade of a maple tree. That’s the idea behind the City of Miami Gardens’ newly relaunched Environmental Science Center of Tomorrow, or ESCOT – an immersive educational program where the city’s elementary school students of all ages learn about science, math, social studies and reading in the great outdoors.
Located among the massive trees at Parkview Elementary, the center is broken up into stations targeting different subject areas. The science section can (quietly) examine firsthand the cycle of migratory birds that visit the park, while in another corner first graders learn to read along under the trees as sound speakers deliver tales during story time. The center will also serve as the launching ground for seven current science projects being conducted by students.
The return of the program, which initially launched as an event way back in 1988, has been a personal pet project for Miami Gardens Councilman, David Williams, who previously served as a PTA president at Parkview Elementary and has advocated for further STEM programs for students in the city, including the creation of school botanical gardens and aquatic labs.
“We truly believe that we should do a lot of things as it relates to education. You don’t have to be inside a classroom to learn,” says Williams. “This is the perfect learning environment, since we live in South Florida.”
The facilities were officially opened last week, with local officials, teachers and students attending to honor the occasion. Meanwhile, students were certainly ready to break the new facility in, fully equipped with pillows and notebooks to start lessons under the trees.
The new education facility will continue the city’s push for stronger STEM education in schools, which has also included Miami Gardens’ annual engineering and science fair.