Garden-based STEM nutrition and biology K-12 curriculum to increase pulse consumption

Despite being rich in protein, fiber, and phytonutrients, pulse crops remain an underutilized food in typical American diets. To help promote pulse consumption, we developed a STEMfocused curriculum that combines exposure to pulses in a school garden setting and in the classroom through nutrition, math and biology education. This curriculum meets the new Next Generation Science Standards, Washington State Health Standards, and Common Core Math Standards, thereby meeting needs of teachers and school districts to meet educational standards. In this project, we revised the curriculum in spring 2015 based on feedback from teachers and classroom observers and posted the curriculum on our website We held a train-the-trainers workshop in May 2015 at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC which was attended by 13 participants who learned how to use the curriculum in classroom settings. We submitted the curriculum to WSU FastTrack in July 2015 for publication, and submitted a revised manuscript May 2016. Our pulse curriculum project was video recorded Sept 2015 by the Institute for Health Promotion Research, at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, for their documentary-web series Salud Heroes that spotlights community members focusing on policy areas to promote healthy lifestyles, and fighting the obesity epidemic in Latino Children, We have published two refereed journal articles in the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management (the journal of the American School Nutrition Association) highlighting the results of this curriculum in a classroom study in Northwest Washington and a survey of food service directors regarding the barriers to serving pulses in school cafeterias. We formed a new partnership with Diane Smith, WSU Extension Youth and Family Program in Skagit County, who is now spearheading the use of the curriculum in our region. One of our former teacher-partners is using the curriculum as part of her 4th grade science class.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 142
  • Project Status: Complete



Smith, D., L.A. Riddle, K.A. Atterberry, and C. Miles. 2016. Garden-based pulse nutrition and
biology, Grade 4 Curriculum, Spring and Fall Lessons for the School Garden and the Classroom.
Washington State University Extension Publication, submitted.

Smith, D., L.A. Riddle, K.A. Atterberry, S.Kerr, and C. Miles. 2016. Barriers and opportunities to
serving pulses in school meals in Washington schools. Journal of Child Nutrition & Management
in press.

Smith, D., B. Mandal, L.A. Riddle, S.Kerr, K.A. Atterberry, and C. Miles. 2016. Exploring pulses
through math, science and nutrition activities. Journal of Child Nutrition & Management in

Miles, C., K. Atterberry, L.A. Riddle, J. Rueda, and S. Kerr. 2015. Impact of school garden-based
education on dry bean knowledge and preference. HortScience 50(9):S230.


Short-term: Regional and national dissemination of a school garden-based STEM-focused
curriculum that features nutrition, biology and math lessons with a pulse crop in both the
school garden and classroom settings to increase consumption of pulse crops among youth. The
formation of a new partnership with the WSU Youth and Family Program in Skagit County and
they are now leading the effort to disseminate the curriculum.

Intermediate-term: An increase in teacher awareness of the opportunities to use school
gardens to effectively teach STEM curricula. Increase student awareness of and preference for
pulses as a delicious and healthy food choice. Increase in number of student-appealing pulse
recipes in school food programs. Increase the opportunities for local farmers to sell pulse crops
to school food programs.

Long-term: An increase in healthy eating habits among youth that will be carried into
adulthood, and concurrent decrease in diet-based diseases such as heart disease, diabetes,
colon cancer, and obesity.