STREAM Camp focuses on environment, Giving Garden

Rick Wagner • Updated Jun 17, 2017 at 10:20 AM

KINGSPORT — Almost 50 middle school students have spent much of the week planning and making a raised-bed vegetable and fruit Giving Garden, and on Friday they participated in a Kingsport City Schools/Food City version of Food Network’s “Chopped” television show.

The fourth annual KCS STREAM Camp, which stands for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math, focused on the environment and food. The second week’s event, to start Monday, will focus on water, including how to get it to the four new garden beds. Partners aside from Food City included Eastman Chemical Co. and local nurseries. The camps are supported by tuition, but community partner funds and other available money go to scholarships for those who can’t afford to pay.

“Our camp this week has had an environmental focus with an emphasis on design,” said Kelli Seymour, associate principal of Robinson and overseer of the camp.


“We began the week looking from a global perspective about our impact on the plant. We then narrowed the focus to the distribution and harvesting of food. Students studied aquaponics and hydroponics and designed floating gardens that would allow life to be sustained in countries that are plagued with flooding such as Bangladesh,” she said.

Last Monday, students began the week learning about the ocean, which is plagued by plastic garbage hurting the production of oxygen by plankton.

“All of our inventions have made it bad,” said Ria Kotari, a rising Robinson seventh-grader.

The largest debris collections make up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash vortex in the north Pacific. Students also learned that by 2050, the Earth, which has only 1/32 of its surface available for agriculture, is projected to reach a population of 9 billion people.

On Tuesday, students did planning and learned about water gardening, according to rising Robinson seventh-grader Diego Chavez. On Wednesday they built the beds and on Thursday did the planting. The event wrapped up Friday with final work in the garden and a “Chopped” STREAM Challenge partnering with Food City, followed by sharing their work with parents and family.


Mary Elizabeth Bastian, a rising Robinson seventh-grader, said growing food locally helps reduce pollution from transporting food across the world, while rising Robinson seventh-grader Samia Izallalen said the Earth is losing seeds to mechanized harvesting. Sevier rising seventh-grader Adrian Coldin and rising eighth-grader Isaac Linkous suggested that Sevier and Dobyns-Bennett High School develop gardens. The one at Robinson includes tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, cantaloupes and lettuce.

This fall, the special education students in functional academics will maintain the gardens. When it comes time to harvest, Seymour said, they are to give some produce to residents of nearby Kiwanis Towers, and the rest is to be sold at a Robinson “farmers market” to faculty and staff to raise money for new age-appropriate playground equipment for the special education middle school students. 

“Students then brainstormed how we, locally, could have a positive impact. Students determined there was space at the school that could be utilized to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables locally. After the planning phase, students designed the area and the beds,” Seymour said. “After the design phase students built and planted the beds.”

For more information, contact her at [email protected] or (423) 378-2217.


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