Discoveries Abound in the Sea Cliff School Garden

Students at Sea Cliff School made a fascinating discovery while observing pumpkin plants in the school garden! A student in Mrs. Boyle’s 4th grade class, Jonah, noticed a rust-colored lady beetle resting on a fuzzy, green pumpkin leaf. Jonah quickly pointed out some differences between this particular lady beetle and the common ladybugs we often welcome into our school garden. He explained we were observing a squash beetle, Epilachna borealis, a common pest of plants in the squash family. Jonah’s discovery launched Mrs. Krupin’s enrichment class into an in depth study of squash beetles, their life cycle, the plants they infest, and organic pest management in our school garden.

Learning like real scientists, K - 5 students journeyed to the Sea Cliff School garden for field investigations. Using hand lenses to carefully observe the squash beetle in its natural habitat and microscopes to investigate the lacy leaf patterns left behind by the hungry beetle’s appetite for juicy pumpkin leaves, students thoughtfully collected and recorded data. Authentic, experiential learning continued as students noticed a cluster of tiny squash beetle eggs camouflaged on a yellow leaf, pupa shells hidden inside crunchy plant matter, and adult squash beetles crawling up fuzzy pumpkin vines. These exciting discoveries engaged students in the process of scientific inquiry and inspired them to wonder, test hypotheses, reflect on their learning, and gain a deeper understanding of the interrelationships of living things in our beautiful, wondrous Sea Cliff School garden.

Article and photos by Diane Krupin