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Heaven Scent: A Luffa Sponge Gourd Soap Project
Start with one idea.
Our Saint Gregory the Great students are on their way to becoming successful entrepreneurs. Thanks to the Growing in SC: The Future of STEAM is Here grant from S2TEM Centers SC, the students used concepts from science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and math to develop a unique soap product to sell at the Bluffton Farmer’s Market.

Using grant funds, we expanded our existing school garden to include a luffa sponge gourd garden. Students were involved every step of the way. After researching luffa sponge gourds, students engaged in designing trellises that would support luffa growth, germinating luffa seeds and planting and caring for the luffa plants.

Share with others.
Sharing our progress and successes with our school and church communities created true blessings. As with most gardens, there were plenty of problems to solve along the way. Fighting insects while keeping the garden organic was quite the challenge.  You never know when experts might want to add their knowledge and talents to your project. After reading about our little luffa project in our church bulletin, Dr. Art Martin approached Chris Trott, our school principal, to see if he could help in any way. Dr. Martin developed an organic, plant-based, anti-pathogen product that is used world-wide to combat pathogens in many animal and plant farming applications. His product has also been helpful in combatting a foot fungus that is problematic in China. Dr. Martin worked with our students to include Path-Away in their soap product, giving it an edge over other soap products that might be sold in our same market. Dr. Martin visited with the students on a regular basis to give mini-lessons that connected the students’ luffa project to real world applications. Dr. Martin shared his eight-year struggle to develop his product, helped the students calculate the pathogens in their classroom, and taught them how to create the 1% Path-Away solution that would be used in their soap product.

Let it grow.
From planting to processing, the entire SGGCS student body from pre-k to 6th grade has had their hands on this project. The garden club worked throughout the year to care for and solve everyday garden problems. Every student took part in filling and planting the raised beds. Every student peeled and removed seeds from a harvested luffa. Students even developed a natural solution to lighten the color of the luffas. Every student has had his/her turn in making soap. In art class, the students learned about product packaging and creating logos. A marketing expert worked with the students on how to market and sell their product. Our Spanish teacher worked with our students to create skits based on a market setting.  They practiced the Spanish vocabulary necessary to communicate with a vendor or customer in order to make a sale or purchase a product.  They were also given the opportunity to negotiate pricing, thus preparing our students to serve their customers in two languages. After the final visit to the farmer’s market, the students will analyze their sales data and begin to make changes and plans for year two of their luffa sponge gourd project.

Our little luffa project has touched every student in the school and reached every corner of the curriculum. It has taken us in directions we planned, and on journeys we couldn’t have imagined. We look forward to the next stop on the adventure!

Barbara Pittman
Saint Gregory the Great Catholic School








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