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Local elementary school gets greenhouse built by Baylor students

After receiving a $2,000 grant, a group of five engineering students at Baylor University had an idea for a local elementary school.

WACO, Texas — Students at Connally Elementary have an outdoor learning space to grow their own produce after students at Baylor built them a greenhouse.

The idea began in 2018 when Teresa Kelm, a 5th grade teacher wanted to get her students more involved with their garden. Kelm got in touch with Dr. Stephanie Boddie, who got her students to write grant for a greenhouse. 

After receiving a $2,000 grant, a group of five engineering students at Baylor University built the greenhouse this year.

"With an environment like this it really helps students to learn in the classroom but then to come out and integrate that learning and apply that learning in a way that really makes sense to them," Dr. Boddie said.

With their new greenhouse, students at Connally Elementary will be able to get  ahead start with growing crops. They can plant seeds during the fall and winter months and then transfer them to their garden in the spring.

"They can take a skill into their own life and in further years to make them a better person. To be more successful in life, that's what we teachers strive for, not just to get them make a score on a test," Kelm said. 

Most students in the district live in a food desert, according to Kelm. She said this will not only benefit students at Connally Elementary, but their families and the community.

James Bates, and engineering professor at Baylor was the instructor for the team of five who built the greenhouse. He said they used seven features to make it self sustaining. 

Bates said the greenhouse is expected to last several years. 

Students taking summer classes are beginning to learn about the greenhouse and they'll start using it in the upcoming school year.

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