Living Labs

What is a Living Laboratory?

Living Laboratories are outdoor garden classrooms, created and maintained by Greater Newark Conservancy at Newark schools. The Living Labs are used to teach school children about the environment along with math, science and literacy. This program helps help students develop an appreciation for the environment while learning what steps they can take to protect it. Living Labs range in size from several city lots, to small school courtyards or flower barrels on the block near a school.

How does the Living Lab program work?

The Conservancy develops a garden design and provides construction and plant materials, tools, technical guidance and construction labor and then implements programming for students to participate in hands-on, plant-based science education. The Living Lab schools are expected to help with the maintenance of the garden including weeding and litter removal. Greater Newark Conservancy provides two lessons a month to participating classes in schools with Living Labs. All lessons are interdisciplinary and correlate to New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards. As students plant and raise seeds, test soil, compost weeds and hunt for insects they gain insight into, and appreciation for, the interdependence of ecosystems and the important role they can play in habitat preservation.

How Can I Create a Living Lab at My School?

If you are interested in creating a Living Lab at your school, please contact the Education department. Some of the initial steps in creating a Living Lab are:

1. Create a Living Lab Team – Principal, Lead Science Teacher, 3 Teachers
2. Arrange for Greater Newark Conservancy to present “Creating a School Yard Garden” Professional Development Workshop to teachers at your school.
3. Complete the “So You Want to Create a Living Lab Checklist”
4. Find funding sources for your garden. If needed, Greater Newark Conservancy can also provide principals and educators with grant writing assistance.
5. Determine who will maintain the garden spaces when school is not in session.
6. Contact us for more details.

How can I help support the Living Lab program?

Greater Newark Conservancy is seeking Living Lab sponsors to help support this program. Your contribution can help ensure the continued implementation of two monthly lessons for more than 500 students in 15 schools. Your tax-deductible donation also helps maintain the Conservancy’s Living Labs, even when the students are on summer break.

To become a Living Lab Sponsor contact: