Students in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD are continuing to engage in project-based learning from home through mycology kits that allow them to grow and sell gourmet mushrooms to local restaurants.
According to Buell Central DAEP Principal Mario Bracamontes these are part of the campus efforts to continue to engage and inspire students during distance learning. A total of 15 mycology kits were donated by South Texas Mushrooms, a local farm owned by PSJA Buell Engineering Teacher Alvaro Gurrola.
As a way to engage students taking his Principles of Applied Engineering class, Gurrola decided to donate these kits consisting of mycelium, gloves, spray bottle, masks and a journal to track their progress.
“I wanted to spark my students’ curiosity and challenge them to think of different ways of doing things as well as helping their community,” said Gurrola who was first inspired to start a mushroom farm in order to find natural ailments to help his father as he battled cancer. “My class is about coming up with new ideas and approaches to solve problems.”
As part of this interactive lesson, 15 PSJA ISD students are growing gourmet King Oyster Mushrooms that will be sold to local restaurants like SALT and House Wine Bistro, consumed, and donated to a partnering nonprofit TOWR.
In addition to the hands-on experience, Gurrola shared that students will also gain other important skills like financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and it will assist them in their other classes as other subject teachers like English, History, and Speech aligned their curriculum to match this project.
“We commend our campus leaders and teachers for finding innovative ways to continue to engage our students,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “As a district, we are working hard to continue offering a high-quality education to our students and this is definitely an enriching experience!”
While this mycology lesson was started at PSJA Buell, Gurrola and Principal Bracamontes shared that they plan to collaborate with other campuses like PSJA Southwest Early College High School to offer this experience to more students.