If they had long sleeves, the students in the Green Club and the science research class at Jose Marti MAST Academy in Hialeah would be rolling them up in the Arboretum, their small forest of native plants.
“It’s definitely growing; it’s literally growing,” said Green Club member Chris Ruiz, smiling as he talks about his favorite subject. “And we get to maintain it, so it’s like our, it’s the sense of pride that you worked on it.”
The kids use the outdoor planted area as an ecology lab, learning to identify the numbered trees by scanning a Q-code on their phones or tables, and that’s just the start.
“Well, this is a pigeon plum right here,” said teacher Andy Kearns, peeling back the branches of a small tree. “And inside of it, you’ll see there’s a very well-protected mockingbird nest.”
So the kids are learning about flora and fauna. Like all MAST Academy schools, Jose Marti 6-12 emphasizes the STEM fields. It’s a magnet school, open to anyone in Miami-Dade County.
In the aquaponics lab, they’re growing tilapia and researching how well the fish waste fertilizes plants. In the same classroom, Fairchild Tropical Gardens is relying on the students to help grow and re-establish rare orchids.
“Twenty-four bottles in which they’re micropropagated,” explained Kearns. The students regularly measure the bottled orchids’ progress. Eventually they hope to plant them in the wild.
Every student at the school takes three science courses at a time.
“We’re like a mini-college,” said Principal Jose Enriquez. “We have the opportunity for our students to learn all the different types of science, could be environmental, life science, and physical science. They have an opportunity to explore what they like in science.”
If you think your child would be a good fit here, the school is holding an open house event on Tuesday, December 9th at 6:00 PM.