The Sustainability Lab offers a unique opportunity for all Casita students to actively participate in hands-on science experiments in relation to environmental science. Students attend the Sustainability Lab either in the laboratory setting, the schoolyard habitat, botanical garden, or Kitchen Lab once a week for an hour (upper grades) and every third week (lower grades). Students work collaboratively to inquire about our environment using a variety of modern equipment and tools for microscopy, dissection, biology, geology, and chemistry. Casita encourages environmental stewardships through our Sustainability Lab.
The schoolyard habitat is an ongoing restoration project that doubles as a beautiful nature study site for students. This approximately 2 acre area features a shaded outdoor learning lab, tree-stump seating, nature trails, and owl/bat boxes. It is composed of two wildlife habitats rarely found in this area: the wetland and coastal sage scrub ecosystems. The wetland features a seasonal stream and the coastal sage scrub serves as a catalyst for the delicate interactions between local plants and animals. The area provides the opportunity to participate in outdoor education such as citizen science, watershed education, wildlife observation, Native American studies, art in nature, and a variety of other activities.
Casita's front yard is a 10,000 sq. ft. organic botanical garden and certified wildlife habitat. Permanent planting areas include California native plants from different climatic zones, a beautiful California sycamore, and a fruit tree border. Twenty-one redwood garden beds offer planting opportunities for students both in the EnvironmentalScience Lab and with their classroom teachers. Redwood benches serve as a place to sit and read or to observe our ecosystem. There are two outdoor classroom areas, one with theater-style benches and another with tree-stump seating.
Casita has partnered with the Sage Garden Project to hire a garden consultant to further enhance the garden ecosystem. To build rich, living soil, students are using the design process to design a permanent, custom-made composting system. Students learn about the science behind composting including changes of matter, cycling of nutrients, and the invertebrates and microbes that create the compost. Students are also designing experiments to test how compost affects the growth of plants. The garden is seen as an ecosystem, and is based on the permaculture concept that if you take organic material out of the garden, put it back into the garden.
Ross Baker Dedication Habitat Reel
The Ross Baker was a dedicated parent who with a team of parents and staff, restored Casita's Schoolyard Habitat. His advocacy for using night time motion sensing cameras (and computer science) has left a legacy for our children. Please view the Ross Baker Dedication Habitat Reel: