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Students and tutors at the Church of the Covenant


Flowers and Students Grow at Rockefeller Park Greenhouse

Rockefeller Park Greenhouse Spring had almost sprung when 39 students and 17 volunteers from the Saturday Tutoring Program visited Rockefeller Park Greenhouse on April 8, 2006. The Greenhouse was established about 100 years ago on land that was donated to the City of Cleveland by John D. Rockefeller. Initially, the Greenhouse was used to raise plants to landscape city parks. Nowadays, the Greenhouse features theme gardens, specialty plant collections, and seasonal flowers.

One of the most unique gardens at the Greenhouse is the "Talking Garden" for blind visitors. This garden has audio narration, and in the summer it is filled with plants that have unusual textures and fragrances. The students took turns wearing blindfolds so that they could experience this garden without their sense of sight. The blindfolded students trusted their "guides" to help them avoid hazards like low tree branches, uneven sidewalks, and areas where there was no guide rope.

The students and their tutors also toured the Latin American and Japanese Gardens. After the group had walked through the Peace Garden, Ms. Wilson gathered everyone in the gazebo and asked them why they thought the garden was named the "Peace Garden". Interestingly, no one gave the obvious answers about wars or conflicts. They had other wonderfully creative ideas.

Inside the Greenhouse, the students were very interested in playing "botany bingo". They had to look carefully for various plants, trees, and other objects listed on bingo cards. They found papayas, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes growing on the trees in the Tropical Showhouse. They spotted barrel, pencil, and organ pipe cacti in the Cacti Showhouse. They discovered waterfalls, blue flowers, and plants with purple leaves in the Main Showhouse.

Some groups sat quietly and read "fun facts" about the plants on display. They learned that orchids can make more than a million tiny seeds. They also learned that the colors of flowers can look very different to bees than they do to humans. Bees see flashy colors like bright yellow or fluorescent orange, which make them want to land on the flowers.

The students enjoyed spending time with their tutors in the beautiful surroundings at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. They learned some science, math, and even a little history. They had fun (and didn't necessarily know they were strengthening their observational and reading skills at the same time!). This was the group's fourteenth field trip, and it marked the end of the Saturday Tutoring Program's sixteenth year.

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Cleveland, OH 44106