How did NDC help create a dinosaur footprint garden at a local elementary school? Through collaborative process and great partnerships! The project is part of the Treating and Teaching Stormwater Stewardship program, a new environmental education effort in 2017, funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Prince George’s County through the County Stormwater Stewardship grant program. Treating and Teaching is built on partnership, bringing together designers, environmental educators, and advocacy groups whose work at schools intersects through tree plantings, experiential learning, and greening activities.
Treating and Teaching uses a collaborative design to implement outdoor learning spaces at local schools. Through a competitive application procedure, an initial cohort of six public schools was selected. Perks for educators include professional development training and teaching materials to connect students and staff to the stormwater facilities on their campuses.
The Neighborhood Design Center worked closely with environmental educators, teachers, and students to design and implement outdoor classrooms at Walker Mill Middle School and Capitol Heights Elementary School. Both outdoor learning environments were built by landscape contractors and the Anacostia Watershed Society team with the help of students and volunteers. Walker Mill Middle redesigned an underutilized school courtyard to capture building runoff in a series of stone and planted gardens with movable outdoor seating. Capitol Heights Elementary designed a dinosaur footprint garden with a small assembly space and children’s play areas, complete with a sandbox to dig for fossils! The garden shape is reminiscent of a dryptosaurus foot, a dinosaur in the tyrannosaurus family that was once native to the Maryland area. On December 7th, Capitol Heights held a ribbon cutting for the dinosaur garden attended by dozens of students and staff, while the school district’s media team shot video and interviews with several students.