Students Travel Locally to Learn Outdoors
November 18, 2011
Port Angeles, Wash. - Canoeing on Lake Crescent on a windy day….hiking to Marymere Falls….staying in bunkhouses overnight away from home, learning about our own environment close to home….studying earth science….These are only a few memories for Jefferson and Roosevelt Elementary sixth grade students who traveled to Olympic Park Institute’s (OPI) campus this fall.
“Our hope for students when they participate in a program is that they will have a positive experience in the outdoors which eventually leads to respect and care for the natural world,” OPI/NatureBridge Education Manager Shannon Walz explained. “We explore Olympic National Park through a scientific lens to uncover the curiosities this amazing place holds. As students learn about banana slugs and water quality of Barnes Creek, they have a chance to be a scientist and develop critical thinking skills that are useful in all aspects of their lives.”
“The programming we offer is based in inquiry science,” Walz added. “We meet many of the inquiry standards as well as standards in the earth and space science, physical science and life science. Often while students are on campus, they will develop their own inquiry-based projects to research.”
OPI works with a number of local schools including Roosevelt, Jefferson, Queen of Angeles, Stevens Middle School, and schools from Joyce and Forks. “Sometimes we go out to the school for programs and some of the schools come out here to campus,” Walz said. “We also do programming with the local tribal students. About 80% of our program participants are from Washington State - 70% of that amount is from the greater Seattle Area. We also have schools come from Texas, New York City, California and Oregon.”
“I find that no matter where the students are from they can't help but to be amazed by this place,” she said. “The blue waters of Lake Crescent, the giant size of the trees, the sight of a leaf under a microscope, all capture the imagination of kids.”
“The trip brought many wonderful memories and lessons to our kids,” Jefferson teacher Leah Bauman added. “So many of them had their worlds opened up and now have a new appreciation for the environment and what is in their own backyard."
"I watched kids overcome fears and try new things," she said. "Students who don't always experience success in a classroom setting had a chance to shine in the experiential education setting. To see the wonder in their eyes and get to play with them in a different setting was very special. The bonds we built will carry us through this school year. I can't express how important this type of experience is in the lives of kids, and there aren't enough words to properly say thank you to all who made this possible.”
“With the help of a grant from OPI and fundraising from our spectacular Jefferson PTO, we were able to get the cost down to very affordable for families,” explained Baumann. “Scholarships were provided for those who couldn’t afford it and volunteers made available plenty of warm clothing and sleeping bags!”
Visit www.naturebridge.org/olympic-park for more information about available educational programs.
Click Fall 2011 Visions to view the entire issue.