DOERUN, Ga. — Doerun Elementary has received some new additions as of late for their STEM program. STEM Instructor Ashley Pitts received donations from various local companies to build a greenhouse, a turtle pond, a garden and an outdoor classroom. 

The greenhouse was built from the ground up by Mobley Greenhouse and was the largest addition to the school. The students are learning to grow butterbeans in toilet paper tubes within the greenhouse to learn about biodegradable materials. In the garden, which was generously funded by the Colquitt Electric Membership Corporation and the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation, the students are growing collards, strawberries, bok choy and many other vegetables.

The turtle pond has become a source of excitement as the children are learning to overcome environmental issues such as how to protect their resident turtle from a stray cat that comes wandering by from time to time.  

“They’re learning how to construct plans to keep their turtle safe from predators,” said Pitts. “In the same vein, they are also learning about predator and prey relationships. They’re thinking up ways on how to protect the turtle, like setting up a chicken wire fence to keep the cat out.”

Lowe’s, Home Depot and Baell Mercantile have also contributed donations to the STEM program, including $1,500 from the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation, which was used to purchase supplies for the class rabbit Snow as well as supplies for the wheat grass smoothies the children learned to grow and make.

“I really want to show our students a new realm of possibilities and to broaden their perspective for when they grow up, or their career possibilities. I want to broaden their horizons. They’re learning things in the classroom, but they’re not doing hands on stuff. Like in fifth grade, they’re learning about solar energy,” said Pitts. “But in STEM, we take that a step further here and we build things that require solar energy. In second grade they’re learning about animal life cycles, but in the lab, we’re hatching cocoons and learning about butterflies. So just taking what they’re learning and making it applicable to real life and translating that into possible careers later.”

This is Pitts’ first year teaching as a STEM Instructor, though she’s been teaching elementary grades for 13 years. When asked if she had anything she would like to say to the donors:

“I want to tell them ‘thank you,’ that they are making an impact that they will never be able to quantify, because we don’t know how this is going to affect these students in the years to come when they grow up or how it may impact their lives, their children’s lives; I mean it may be the things that they learn here, through the donations, may break the cycle of poverty in their family. What they have given is more than they could ever imagine,” said Pitts.

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