By Kayla Benjamin and  Robert R. Roberts

Even as the school year winds down, DMV kids and teens have had no shortage of new opportunities for learning this month. On June 1, more than 200 D.C. high schoolers joined the Department of Parks and Recreation for a Youth Environmental Summit held at Congress Heights urban garden The Well at Oxon Run.

Next, students from across D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Ohio raced around a track in RFK Stadium on June 3 — in electric vehicles they built themselves. The Washington DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix challenged high school teams to craft lightweight, single-person cars and complete as many laps as possible in a one-hour timeframe, using only the vehicle’s batteries. This year, first place went to Stuarts Draft High School, from Virginia. D.C.’s Wheaton and Jackson Reed high schools took home second and third place, respectively. 

Students at the summit participate in a garden tradition of hugging the massive sycamore tree, affectionately named Meme. Photograph courtesy of Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer.

Littler learners have had opportunities to use the outdoors as a classroom this month, too. The youngest attendee at Gardening and Beats’ beekeeping workshop on June 10 was 2-and-a-half-year-old Ava. Of the “Beez in the Trap” event, Ava had this to say: “Bzz! Bzz! Bzz!” 

The workshop took place at, and was co-hosted by, the newly-founded urban farm Chateaux Cocoa, in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Among the many veggies, 17 kids ages 2 to 13 made beeswax candles, planted wildflowers in tiny pots and sampled honey straight from the beehive frame. Most of all, they put on kid-sized beekeeping suits to peek inside the hive with farm founder Darrelynne Strother. 

“I guess the surprise was the real little ones really being into it — I thought they were all going to be scared,” said Kimani Anku, founder of Gardening and Beats, a gardening coach service.