Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above
“Biological diversity does not come easily near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Hoover Street.
The neighborhood just west of downtown is one of the most crowded in Los Angeles County, with 25,352 people per square mile. It’s chock-full of buildings and has lots of pavement, little landscaping and many economically disadvantaged families.
The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test scores in science rose sixfold. In the words of Leo Politi’s delighted principal, Brad Rumble, “We’ve gone from the basement to the penthouse in science test scores.”
With $18,000 from the agency, and volunteer assistance from environmental students at Dorsey High School, Leo Politi removed the concrete and grass from the forlorn corner of campus. Dorsey students wielded rakes and shovels and helped select and plant bushes, flowers and trees, including six live oaks that now shade a slope Rumble calls “our oak highlands.”
Nature responded quickly to the clumps of rye grass, owl’s clover and waist-high thickets of white sage and wildflowers: California poppies, California wild roses, tidytips and island snapdragons.
“First to arrive were insects — lady beetles, butterflies and dragonflies — almost as if they were lying in wait,” Rumble said. “They were followed by birds that feed on them.” At that point, students were hooked. “Questions about why some birds flocked to one plant and not another led to discussions about soil composition and water cycles, weather patterns and seasons, avian migration and the tilt of the Earth in its orbit around the sun,” Rumble said.
…….The benefits are much greater than pure science, said Robert Jeffers, lead arts and humanities teacher at Dorsey and Los Angeles County teacher of the year in 2010.
At Leo Politi, the garden has “instilled a profound sense of responsibility and awareness of nature,” Jeffers said. “Now these kids can tell the difference between a crow and a raven, which requires cognitive skills of understanding subtleties and nuances important throughout life.”