Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Next Generation Science in the Garden Workshop

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Introduction to Next Generation Science in the Garden (Grades K-5)
Let's head outside and put earth and life back into Earth and Life Science! Using lessons from Life Lab’s The Growing Classroom activity guide, participants in this workshop learn to use a garden as a meaningful context in which their students can engage in Next Generation Science and Engineering Practices to examine Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross-Cutting Concepts. Where better to explore ecological interdependence, growth and development of organisms, structure and function, adaptation, and the environmental impact of human activity than in an outdoor garden classroom? Graduate education units available.

Developing NGSS Lessons for the Garden (Grades K-5)
Let’s apply the guiding principals of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to make our students the lead scientists in our garden lessons! This workshop is ideal for participants who have already attended the Intro to NGSS in the Garden Workshop or are otherwise familiar with NGSS. Using activities from Life Lab’s award-winning curricula, and/or lessons brought by participants themselves, participants in this workshop will spend a day developing, modifying, and sharing lessons for the garden using the NGSS approach. Graduate education units available.


Graduate Education CreditAnyone interested in teaching K-5 science in a garden.


Location and Cost Options

Life Lab's Garden Classroom on the UC Santa Cruz Campus 1 day: $180/$200 per participant – See dates and registration deadlines for upcoming workshops


At your school site – See pricing details


Key Workshop Components


  • How to lead highly contextualized, engaging, hands-on science lessons outdoors
  • How to link garden activities to Next Generation Science Standards
  • How to use garden-based science lessons to reinforce Common Core Math and English Language Arts 

Take home …

  • An activity packet full of garden-based, elementary science lessons cross-mapped to Next Generation Science, and Common Core Math and ELA Standards
  • Inspiration to use the garden as context for exploring earth and life science
  • Strategies for success from Life Lab and other educators engaged in this exciting work
  • Optional: 1 units of education credit per day from the University of the Pacific ($70/unit)

Participant Comments

"I am a scientist and have a Ph.D in molecular/microbiology, but I am a mom first. When I came to my son's 2nd grade class and found that the 'science' kids were doing consisted of making dinosaur dioramas, I knew the school needed to do more. I wanted elementary school students to be exposed to true, hands-on science. I chose Life Lab to fill the void because the science was sound. The Life Lab program provides true experiments for students and inspires in them a love of science."

– Volunteer Garden Coordinator near San Diego, CA

View all scheduled upcoming Garden Classroom workshops

All workshops require advanced registration and deposit.

To set up a workshop for your school site, please call Life Lab at (831) 459-2001 or email

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Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

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Just when I thought we’d seen it all ... this is an agrophotovoltaic school garden underneath massive solar panels at @Manzo.Ecology in Tucson. The elementary school students here gather and analyze data on how the shade from the panels helps the plants grow and how the plants help cool the panels and increase their efficiency. What?!?! It’s amazing and gives me hope. Oh, and also they have a desert tortoise in their courtyard. ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom