One of the most intriguing aspects about the $109 million Math+Science Complex at Mesa College is actually not part in the building at all. Four learning gardens extend teaching and learning beyond the classroom walls to the outside of the facility. These specialty spaces were created by Mesa College faculty to enhance the teaching and learning experience.
Located in the geographic center of Mesa College and alongside the central Promenade, three gardens representing the four regions of the world that share San Diego’s Mediterranean climate enhance student learning and showcase attractive water conservation landscaping. In the north central courtyard, a unique Geo-Garden provides quiet study space and stone structures that depict the earth’s layers. In 2015, a new Mesa student club, TerraMesa, the college’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, and Facilities staff revived Mesa’s Organic Garden. Located in the grounds surrounding the P100/200 Buildings off the main campus at the corner of Marlesta Drive and Genesee Avenue, the organic garden offers n outdoor learning lab and a therapeutic space to connect with nature, and opportunities for transformative learning.
Located in the courtyard of the Math+ Science Complex, the Geo Garden features a central garden area and three six-foot tall stone wall segments depicting the earth’s layers. It consists of two main instructional components, including a series the three free-standing, custom stratigraphic walls and approximately two dozen boulder-sized rock specimens.
Geo Garden components illustrate important time and spatial relationships among various rock formations exposed throughout greater San Diego. Both coastal and inland rock units are represented, collectively spanning over 200 million years of geologic time. The stratigraphic walls consist of pigmented, stained concrete embedded with fragments from actual San Diego rock formations. Each wall is annotated with a descriptive steel plaque.
The rock specimens have been placed at strategic locations around the courtyard to illustrate common examples of all three rock types, including igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, as well as common geologic features such as mineral veins, faults, and fossilized sand dunes. Numerous common rock-forming minerals are also represented.
The Geo Garden represents the successful outcome of a public-private collaboration among Mesa Geology Professors Don Barrie and Ray Rector, a local concrete contractor (T.B. Penick & Sons), and a local landscape architectural firm (Wimmer, Yamada, and Caughey).
Classes that utilize the Geo-Garden include:
Physical Geology (GEOL 100)
Physical Geology Lab (GEOL 101)
Earth Science (GEOL 104)
The Earth through Time (GEOL 111)
Physical Science (PHYN 100)
The gardens surrounding the outer areas of the Math+Science Complex were designed to enhance student learning and to showcase attractive water conservation landscaping.
The gardens along the walkway between the M+S Building and the LRC features native regional plants, typical of the shrub dominated ecosystems that define southern California and northern Baja and other Mediterranean climates. There are shrubs and grasses and flowering herbaceous plants. They are used to teach students to recognize native species and the features that help them survive so well in our low water climate. Some of these native plants can be found planted at the rear of the building and the trees surrounding it are mostly coast live oak – one of the few trees that grow naturally in this region.
On the east, sunny side, facing the G Building and along the campus Promenade, are plants from some of the other four regions of the world that share our Mediterranean climate with its mild temperatures, low precipitation and winter rains. These plants, having evolved in a similar environment, share many features with our local species: small hard leaves, fuzzy leaves, fragrant leaves. They provide an excellent example of convergent evolution.
On the east side are planted some northern California species and some African irises that can be harvested for use in labs. In the back are various Mediterranean plants including fragrant lavender and a single cork oak tree, the bark of which is used as a renewable resource.
Lastly, to the west of the G Building and planted by our own Mesa facilities staff long before the M+S building was built is an stunning desert garden filled with palo verde, cacti, local shrubs and spring flowers, including our state flower: the California poppy. This area perfectly complements the rest of the California species and is also used in teaching.
Classes that utilize the Mediterranean Gardens include:
BIOL250 - Introduction to Botany
BIOL100 - Natural History & Environmental Biology
The gardens are used some by non-majors and majors in BIO107 and BIO210B.
In 2015, a new Mesa student club, TerraMesa, the college’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, and Facilities staff revived Mesa’s organic garden.
The organic garden intersects with several of Mesa’s strategic directions and goals, including:
- Strategic Goal 2.1: Provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to interact outside of the classroom or workspace.
- Strategic Goal 4.1: Support new teaching strategies, applied learning experiences, and engagement techniques in support of student-centered learning.
- Strategic Goal 6.1: Provide sustainability in terms of our facilities, technology, human resources, and fiscal resources.
Located in the grounds surrounding the P100/200 Buildings off the main campus at the corner of Marlesta Drive and Genesee Avenue, the organic garden provides opportunities for transformative learning. It is both an outdoor learning lab and a therapeutic space to connect with nature. Each Spring, Mesa students lead hands-on environmental education activities for second and third graders from local elementary schools as part of Canyon Classroom.