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Laura Cummings

Design and build a greenhouse to grow native plants for coastal restoration

2023 STEM Scholar
Haleiwa, HI Sunset Beach Elementary School

Laura’s Big Idea: Laura’s students will design, build and test model greenhouses and select the best for a build. Students will design and conduct experiments to select the most effective native plants to grown in order to prevent erosion. The students will donate the native coastal plants to restoration organizations, such as the North Shore Community Land Trust. Growth data will be collected and monitored using Smart Farm technology coded by students in order to adjust for optimal growth.

Objectives include:

  • Asking questions and defining problems around sea level rise and coastal erosion;
  • Developing and using engineering to develop models to test small scale greenhouse designs;
  • Planning and conducting investigations to make conclusions about which plants to grow based on their ability to prevent erosion;
  • Interpreting data from the results of designed experiments with native plants and erosion;
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking to design the greenhouse and monitor data for optimal plant growth;
  • Constructing explanations to determine why some plants are better suited to prevent coastal erosion;
  • Engaging in arguments from evidence if student experiments yield various results;
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information with partner organizations and the community;
  • Building stronger partnerships with community organizations.

Interesting Fact:

Laura teaches on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. She loves to travel and has visited nearly 38 countries!


In her own words: “This [project] is a priority for us because it is a global issue with local implications…. Rather than just learning about causes and effects of climate change, students should be empowered to take action in a meaningful way and give back to their community….As we strive to become more globally competent, projects that address these essential goals have to be prioritized.”