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Lehigh Middle set to begin bee project thanks to grant

December 19, 2018
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Students at Lehigh Acres Middle School will soon learn about the life of bees through three various hives, which are in the process of being built and purchased, so bees can be put in them come this fall.

Lehigh Acres Middle School recently received a $870 grant from "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, which will help them purchase bees for their Importance of Bees Project.

Monica Walker, STEAM Magnet Coordinator Monica Walker said they received a STEAM Magnet Grant a year ago, along with two other schools in Lee County. It is a five year grant. She said they wanted to integrate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) into their lessons during the week.

"The idea is that students be exposed up to five hours of STEAM a week," Walker said, by integrating STEAM lessons into other disciplines to make an all around scholar.

Grant Writer Michelle Start said they received the federal government grant after the hurricane last year. Part of that grant, she said was the desire to include fruit trees on the campus because they have a lot of hungry kids at the school who do not eat on the weekends. Although some trees have been purchased, they are waiting for approval from the district of additional trees they can plant.

"I wanted to address a community problem. The next logical step is that now we have this large $3 million grant. How do we sustain funding," Start said. "After the money runs out we need to sustain the programs we are building."

The large federal grant has allowed Lehigh Middle to bring in a FUSE Studio, which provides a maker space environment, where kids choose their own challenges - computer based or physical.

In addition, they brought in forensics as an elective; engineering; Girls Who Code; advanced art; and Virtual Reality goggles giving the students the ability to go on field trips.

The field trips have included such places as visiting different colleges, walking along the Great Wall of China, visiting the San Diego Zoo, as well as going inside a cell to examine the membrane and nucleus.

"We have 150 opportunities that we can use. Many are standard base, they are educational," Walker said.

She said they also have exploratory music, giving students the opportunity to explore singing, dancing, or playing music.

Last spring, Start and a few others from Lehigh Middle visited a high school in Chicago and learned about the bees they had.

"They were selling honey and selling other bee products," she said, which fueled the desire to research starting their own bee colony. "There were several different grant opportunities out there that we pursued."

The first was through the Lee County Foundation of Schools, which they did not receive, but later benefited from a flow hive Estero High School returned to the foundation.

Start said the foundation offered it to their school. She said her global perspective kids took a lead on the hive and it's almost completely assembled.

In addition to the flow hive, Start said they will also have a hex hive and an observation hive.

The flow hive, and hex hive, Start said are indoor observation hives.

"You can kind of build a honeycomb inside the building and the bees access it from outside," she said of the flow and hex hive. "The flow hive can produce 40 jars of honey. At $10 a jar that is $400 and that is just one hive. It's a start."

Start said she hopes her students will learn about the ecosystem through the Importance of Bees Project.

"I am hoping they will learn about sustainability and I'm really hoping this whole program will give them insight of escaping poverty. I would like my children to grow up and not be in poverty. Learn some life skills," she said.

In addition, Start said with the three different hives, her students will be able to decipher the different honey produced out of each one and compare and contrast the way the bees interact with the hives.

"It brings science to life," Walker said.

Start said you tend to order bees in the fall and get everything mounted and ready to go, so when they spring comes, planting, growing and pollinating can begin.



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