Caterpillars fell from trees and children read poems about crayons all underneath the shade of giant trees as Parkview Elementary school relaunched its Environmental Science Center of Tomorrow with a dedication event Wednesday.
The event was a collaboration between the school and the city of Miami Gardens, and was the latest science-based initiative from Councilman David Williams Jr., who has spearheaded the creation of botanical gardens and aquatics labs at area schools.
Williams, who previously served as the PTA president at Parkview, was praised for his interest in building science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs throughout schools in Miami Gardens, with this center the latest endeavor.
“He is teaching our students how to appreciate science and with all the emphasis today we have on STEM, I’m grateful to David for also making sure there are other aspects of learning that we never forget about,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens.
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The center, in a large grassy field behind the school at 17631 NW 20th Ave., features new stations all painted in various colors and surrounded by large pencils and plenty of trees, insects and migratory birds. The different areas focus on math, science, social studies and other subjects and include students from all grade levels. The center first opened in 1992.
The birds making a stop in the school’s backyard led to a partnership with Audubon Florida, which agreed to purchase 10 binoculars and books to encourage students to bird watch and consider studying ornithology.
Annie Neasman, the president and CEO of the Jessie Trice Community Health Foundation, said she and Councilman Williams discussed the idea about a year ago.
“He talked about this beautiful facility and how the birds migrate and wouldn’t it be wonderful for the children to have that experience,” Neasman said. “You have to apply these concepts into what children know.”
The various speakers also joked about the different animals and reptiles that Williams has kept at his home over the years, including albino skunks and various species of lizards.
Miami Gardens plans to continue partnering with its local schools and to continue events like the city’s annual engineering and science fair to keep kids interested in STEM and in exploring nature.
“This has truly been a monument in the making,” Parkview Elementary school principal Edith Hall said.