COLUMBUS (WCMH) – After a year of virtual learning, teaching children in a traditional setting may not be what they need this summer.

Experts at the Korda Institute and Columbus City Schools are teaming up to make sure the students learn while they’re on location.

Their first assignment: at NBC 4.

“I’ve been trying to think of an idea, how can we turn this into something useful,” said Ken Freedman, general manager at NBC 4.

That idea includes students from Mifflin High School, 14 of them, who arrived at the television station on Olentangy River Road early Tuesday morning, ready to take notes and come up with a plan of what to do with a portion of the property at NBC4.

“When you look at this neighborhood, we’ve got approximately 10 acres and almost 2 ½ are land blocked,” Freedman said. “They’ve been neglected for decades and we’ve got neighbors; to the north is the cemetery, west and the south is low-income housing.”

Freedman took the students on a tour of the grounds and showed them the area NBC4 would like to turn into an urban garden.

The station is surrounded by low-income housing and many of its neighbors grow their own vegetable in buckets because, one, they can’t afford it, and two, they’re living in the middle of a food desert.

“So many trees were overgrown,” said teacher Taylor Rush. “It was bumpy with sticks as we were walking and then you get to this gorgeous land that is all fenced in. It’s like, ‘Wow.’”

As part of their Learning While Doing project, the students will lay out how to fill the garden with fresh produce, how to get NBC4’s neighbors involved in the growing process, and how to make sure everyone in the area gets something that was grown there.

“Can you turn that into a garden,” asked one student, Xavier Starks. “It could be a garden, but it could be a patch, like for pumpkins or watermelons.”

It may look like just another garden, but this project is loaded with learning and life skills of critical thinking, collaboration, and citizenship.

The Korda Institute for Teachers is working with everyone in the class to make sure the students not only learn, but retain that information, especially after learning during the pandemic.

“These students are going to go and solved this problem,” said Doris Korda with the institute. “They’re going to use their creativity, they’re going to learn how to use their research and they’re engaged.”

The students have about three weeks to put their plans together for NBC4, and we’ll share that plan with viewers once it’s submitted.