Page 6 - FIS World October 2018
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New Learning Environments
Experiences and opportunities abound outside of the classroom
Making use of the new outdoor teaching space near the pond (below left); tending to the garden in new planter boxes at FIS (below right)
For years, FIS and FISW have taken advantage of their beautiful natural surroundings to pursue learning outside the classroom. Forest walks,
wildflower gardens, tree plantings, and studies of the stream and pond are just a few of the meaningful outdoor programs that have been part of the curriculum over the years.
FIS has embarked upon an initiative to build upon this heritage of outdoor education as we know from both experience and research that experiential learning in the outdoors builds knowledge and understanding of and respect for nature, the environment and the interdependence of plants, animals and people – of nature and civilization. Outdoor education also develops collaborative and problem-solving skills and nurtures curiosity, imagination and resourcefulness.
Easily accessible, designated outdoor learning spaces are critical to realizing the potential for outdoor education at FIS. Four areas on our campuses were created and/or expanded last summer to enhance outdoor learning and teaching across all divisions. Each space has its own special character and features. All are the result of collaboration between students, faculty and facilities management working together to build meaningful spaces to accomplish specific goals.
The Pond:
Nature is the best teacher
Fed by the Ursel Stream, the pond near the Primary School was a popular place before the school existed. Thanks to a generous donor and the enthusiasm of Primary School teacher, Annegret Romberg, the pond will be a showcase for outdoor learning. The shaded seating area provides an outdoor classroom for all sorts of activities, as well as a peaceful place to observe the pond habitat. Two docks with moveable floating platforms will enable students to study the pond’s ecosystem, including water quality, climate-factors, flora and fauna. The school also hopes to develop a barefoot path around the pond, providing a sensory element that enhances brain development in young children.
The Planters:
A talking school garden in a big box
Two Upper School student groups, the Nature Club and Design for Change Group, advocated for a school garden as a place to exhibit what is learned in the classroom and as a means to raise awareness about climate change. Large planters that now occupy a space in front of the Stroth Center are the product of a lengthy design process by the student groups. Plants, which can be harvested or used in science-related activities, are the current priority for the boxes. The next step, a collaborative effort of the two groups, will be the creation of videos to explain the project and the role of environment and climate on the life-cycles of the plants. These will be available via a QR code attached to the planters for guests to watch. As a student-led initiative, we can look forward to the space evolving over time to reflect student interests and attitudes toward outdoor education.
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