Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-22-2024

Document Type



Thomas, Alexander. “Designing a STEM Focused Gardening Curriculum for Nebraska Youth Educators.” Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2024.


Copyright Alexander Thomas 2024


Interactive STEM-based curriculum has been shown to increase youth test scores and interest in the topics, as opposed to traditional curriculum. This interest is critical to maintain at a young age, as it affects the student’s confidence in their own abilities and has lifelong impacts on career choice. The objective of this paper is to explain the development and methodology of a STEM-based gardening curriculum at the elementary school level. This curriculum, four new lessons, complements an already existing 6 lesson curricula. Each lesson is designed for 1 hour in an after-school environment. A combination of personal experience, outside sources, academic literature, and a pilot program were used to design and refine the lessons. Specifically, the youth are provided with opportunities to practice different elements of the Engineering Mindset1. The new lessons will provide youth with the opportunity to explore gardening and engineering in more depth than a classroom setting.

The original 6 lesson curriculum, developed by Dr. Rebecca Swanson and Ann O’Conner, exists as part of a large group of curricula, titled STEMCARES. These lessons use various science topics to serve as an introduction to engineering and STEM at the upper elementary level (3rd-5th).