Beepods as STEM Educational Enrichment at University School of Milwaukee


University School of Milwaukee LogoSummary:

A brief overview of the process in which one school built a vision around Sustainable Education and used the Beepod to augment what they were already accomplishing.

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Kenneth “Kip” Jacobs is a lower school science teacher who has been with the school in various positions over the years.  In his current role as a middle school science teacher, Kip had created a variety of initiatives at the school based on cross-curricular education of science and sustainable impact.  With the most recent investment of a Beepods Beekeeping System as a curricular tool, the original projects would be significantly enhanced.


The Problem:

usm kip jacobs students beesMr. Jacobs initially discovered the need to bring the classroom “outside” when he discovered that the students were unable to explain and show how a potato grows.  With that, the lightbulb went on and Kip decided to start a garden at school that would help to feed the kids, while teaching them about plant anatomy and lifecycles.  During this time, he created a bundle of curricular lessons and projects that were woven throughout the year as a way to help the students understand food systems, science and sustainable impact while creating hands-on experiences that enhanced their ability to retain the information.

The next challenge was helping the students understand in more detail “how” plants grow even further.  Since the plant lifecycle requires a pollinator to produce the fruit in most cases, bees were the next logical step.  Beekeeping in its known form is not conducive to teaching students about the animal because of the risk of stings, allergies and other safety concerns of traditional beekeeping.

The solution:

Beepods Beekeeping System and Educational Curriculum

Kip found Beepods through a friend and invited a Beepods team member out to the school to show the grounds.  The school grounds showed a great deal of promise in bringing in a beekeeping system no matter what system.  At this moment though, finding a system that was more conducive to keeping bees docile, safe and ergonomic for any beekeeper or observer was extremely important.

The Beepods system offers itself as a safe beehive for the bees, but specific features make it even better as an educational tool.  Leveraging the external design, data collection tools and ease of use made it an easy choice for Kip to work to bring onto the school grounds to augment the garden project that had blossomed into multiple gardens around the campus and create a new buzz about sustainability education across the lower and upper levels of the school.

Steps to Implementation:

Kip was a champion in informing and helping people understand the impact of the Beepods Beekeeping System on the school grounds.  Kip’s passion, with the help of the Beepods team, made it easy for him to navigate conversations and objections that were faced at every level of decision making.  Here is the list of individuals that Kip spoke to, with the help of the Beepods team, in making the decision to bring bees onto the grounds.

  1. Grounds crew
  2. Science department
  3. School Business Administration
  4. School Administration
  5. School Principal
  6. Concerned Parents
  7. School Nurse

At every level, the Beepods team was available to help in answering any questions, comments or concerns.

During the initial site visit, the Beepods team member helped with some high level beehive sighting advice.  As the project continued, one of the Beepods expert Beekeepers helped with specifics including exact location, leveling, direction the hive should face, etc.  Beekeeping education was included, along with on-site installation and site-specific education.  The Beepods team even follows up with further education and service throughout the year so that there are as few surprises as possible.

Current Status:

The Beepods Beekeeping System stands about 50 feet from the original garden plot on the school grounds.  Kip leverages the curriculum available to him through Beepods and the Beepods Membership Area for beekeeping.  Kip, also, has created some of his own lessons and is working with the Beepods team to improve upon the curriculum incrementally with new projects and lessons.  He is a key member in the educational segment helping the Beepods organization improve our products and services.

Kip is planning on having one of the Beepods Experts out on the school grounds for a day to put on an assembly and spend a day with a variety of classes going through the Beepod teaching about the different combs, bees, and much more.

Read about more about Kip Jacobs and the Beepod at University School of Milwaukee in this feature article on the Green Schools National Network website. shares his story of how he worked with Beepods to install a beekeeping system at his school and, as a result, has increased opportunities for educating his students and the community.