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A PCA Kindergartener plants lettuce as part of the STEM Garden opening ceremony.

Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) leaders and students gathered on Feb. 9, 2016, to officially open the school’s new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Garden on the Plano Campus.

“PCA’s STEM Garden is another step in differentiating PCA’s academic program of excellence,” said PCA’s Head of School, Dr. Larry Taylor. “As with everything we do, our STEM program is designed to produce followers of Christ who have an appreciation of science and the creative nature of God.”

The purpose of the STEM Garden is to provide an outdoor classroom and lab where hands-on learning activities for students from Pre-K through 12th grade will take place. Students will experience STEM related activities that are connected to real world application. Teachers will guide students in conducting original research through inquiry-based lessons and give students an opportunity to be innovative--to explore, test, gather and analyze data.

“At PCA, we focus on these four STEM areas of study together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and how students learn most effectively,” said Middle School Principal Bill Wendl.

The design of PCA’s STEM Garden provides an outdoor learning classroom and laboratory for students at all levels. The garden is equipped with automated drip irrigation in 12 raised beds that are designed to grow the maximum amount of plants (primarily vegetables and herbs) with minimal amount of maintenance. In addition to the traditional raised bed approach to gardening, the strategic design of the PCA STEM Garden provides space for innovative gardening, which may include aquaponics, aeroponics, wicking beds and an off-the-grid technologically advanced greenhouse.

“The future possibilities of the PCA STEM Garden are endless,” said Wendl. “Imagine PCA students designing and maintaining an off-the-grid greenhouse at school which could then be replicated and set up by PCA students on Minimester in areas of need around the world! Our hope is that the STEM Garden will inspire PCA students to enter STEM-related occupations and be used by God to share the love of Christ!”

PCA’s STEM Garden is located next to the school’s softball field to the north of the Upper School campus. Joining Dr. Taylor and Mr. Wendl to cut the ribbon officially opening the STEM Garden were Mrs. Diane Crutcher, PCA STEM Program Donor; Mr. John Klingstedt, Assistant Head of School Operations; Mrs. Dana Epperson, Assistant Head of School Academics; Dr. Terry Rodgers, Upper School Principal; and Mrs. Paige DeLeon, Lower School Principal. District Director Ms. Ebony Wilson represented state Representative Ron Simmons’ District 65. Following the ribbon cutting was a special “ground breaking” ceremony performed by Lower and Middle School students who planted lettuce and swiss chard.

“As people of the Lord, we share a common love for the outdoors,” said Mr. Wendl. “We strive to develop curiosity within our students throughout all different disciplines and our new STEM garden will go a long way to achieving our goals!”

Prestonwood Christian Academy has more than 1,600 students enrolled at three campuses: Plano (Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 12th grade), PCA North in Prosper (Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 5th grade) and PCAplus Virtual Academy.  The school has been recognized as having one of the strongest Christian education programs in the country providing intentional biblical worldview training and integration. PCA places great value on the growth of students’ spiritual health in addition to their scholastic endeavors and co-curricular activities. In addition to PCA’s spiritual development plan, the school promotes a rigorous Liberal Arts academic program. PCA is currently accepting applications for the 2016-17 school year. Interested families are encouraged to schedule a Thursday tour by visiting www.prestonwoodchristian.org/admissions or calling 972.798.6780.

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