4th & 5th Graders Learn About Zero Waste

Fourth and fifth grade students learned about zero waste lifestyles- ways of living that use no plastic or packaging that can’t be composted. Afterwards students walked around campus to see our schools compost pile and picked up trash along the road in front of school and on campus. They filled three grocery bags and the kids were so proud to help our environment.

3rd Grade Science — Becoming Soil Experts

Third graders became soil scientists by observing and testing different soil samples around the school campus. Students noted color, texture, and infiltration. They did a simple soil test to determine the main rock particles of each sample. After moistened, if the soil would not make a ball we knew the main component was sand. If it formed a crumbly ball the main component was silt. A sticky ball that could form into a worm was mostly clay. Students also noticed if there was a high or low amount of organic matter present. Students identified organic matter in the garden soil and noticed it made the soil darker in color.

2nd Grade — Field Work to GMREC

Second grade had an amazing day visiting the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center where they participated in a water conservation program.

Students engaged in interactive activities as part of the program. Activities included making a frog with moving parts to demonstrate the different stages of the frog life cycle.

They also participated in a water waste vs water conservation activity.

Students then participated in a water pollution activity and concluded the visit learning all about the stages of the water cycle.

Students walked away having learned about the importance water conservation.

6th-8th Grade Annual Fall Camping Trip

On September 26-28, Learning Center charter school 6th – 8th grade students embarked on what they wanted to be their annual fall camping trip to explore Great Smoky Mountain National Park. However, they got rained out and came up with alternative ways to explore the park.

Instead of camping as originally planned, students stayed at the bunkhouse at Wildwater Outdoor Center. They visited Occunaluftee Indian Village as well as the Mountain Farm Village.

The group ventured into the town of Cherokee where they had lunch at Newfound Lodge and enjoyed eating a traditional Cherokee meal. Students also stopped at Nantahala Outdoor Center where they played in the Treetop Adventure Playground and waded into the river.

“Camping is an annual event for our 6th-8th graders where our students get to share experiences and stories with their classmates in a new setting,” said Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director of the school.  “Although this year’s weather didn’t allow for camping, our students got to experience our mountain region in brand new ways.”

Dyre added, “At the Learning Center, we believe in hands-on education and there is no better way for our students to learn than to venture out and spark their curiosity.”

Big Buddies

Did you know that fourth graders are teamed up with first graders to be their “Big Buddies?”

They are always happy to get to spend time together.

One this particular day, the fourth graders spent time with their buddies in the woods. The older students helped the younger ones construct and improve upon their fairy houses.

2nd Grade Field Work — Apple Orchard

On November 2nd, Second Grade took a trip to Hillcrest Apple Orchard in Ellijay, Ga. The children had an opportunity to learn how the orchard plants apple trees and harvests their crops. They also were able to taste fresh apple cider, milk a cow, enjoy a hayride, walk through a fairy tale trail, participate in water duck races, walk through a vortex, shuck corn, visit a petting zoo, and shuck fresh corn. They also visited the apple museum and learned all about the importance of honey bees, the life cycle of an apple tree and learned all about the life of Johnny Appleseed. Before leaving the children were allowed to shop in the orchards store to purchase fresh apple products.

The children had a wonderful time and learned many new things while visiting the orchard.

5th Grade Muddy Sneakers — Studying the Weather

You might remember that our 5th graders participate in a program called Muddy Sneakers each year.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.

As part of their ongoing Muddy Sneakers experience, in November students worked with the field educators to learn all about weather.  They used the Scientific Method to measure weather changes between two different points in the day.  Throughout the days adventures, students learned about cold fronts, warms fronts, stationary weather fronts. They played weather related games, acted out weather related skits and generally had a blast being out and observing weather first hand.

1st & 2nd Grades Visit Murphy Mayor

Back in October, students in first and second grade visited the Mayor of Murphy, Mr. Ramsey. They got to tour his offices and ask all sorts of questions about what a mayor does on a daily basis. Learning about roles within a community are important academic standards for these young students and visiting Mayor Ramsey cemented in their minds the importance of the job. Thank you Mayor Ramsey!

8th Grade Students “Venture Out” into Mountain Region

8th Graders are seen with Macon County Historical Museum curator Robert Shook during their Venture Out trip to Franklin, NC in September.

Venture Out is a cross-curricular travel and study program for fourth through eighth grade students at the school.  It weaves literature, science, history and art with travel and real life experiences.  The Venture Out program promotes trips to places and people of interest across the mountain region. The annual upper grades class trip branches out to include travel destinations such as New York City, Coastal NC, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans and Atlanta.

Students in eighth grade experience a robust Venture Out travel schedule that began with the trip to Franklin in September. Students toured the Macon County Historical Museum that is housed in a 1904 building in the town center. They enjoyed a guided tour with special emphasis on Franklin’s unique Civil War history. Students also visited a gem and mineral museum housed in the old Franklin city jail. They enjoyed viewing the expansive mineral, gem and fossil collection housed there.

On October 9th, these students traveled to Rabun County, Georgia and explored the Foxtire Museum and Appalachian Heritage Center. They enjoyed the demonstrations from craftspeople, hands-on activities and learned how people have lived in our mountains for centuries.

Julie Johnson, Expedentiary Learning Coordinator at our school, said, “Our goal at The Learning Center is to create life-long learners who know that there is always something to learn from the world around them.”

The Venture Out activities are chosen to closely align with what students study in the classroom.  Venture Out is not a day out of school – it’s a day where school happens off campus.

Johnson added, “Through travel and exploration, we are making our great community our classroom.”

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part II

Fifth graders have begun participating in The Muddy Sneakers program and will have several excursions throughout the school year.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.  Be sure to scroll down and read Part I in of series of 5th Grade and Muddy Sneakers in the previous post.

The second Muddy Sneakers excursion had the students trekking to Fires Creek to learn about Aquatic Ecosystems. The class was divided into two groups and Muddy Sneakers leaders Kiersten and Alex each took a group to the river to check the water quality.

The students had fun hiking their way through the trails to reach the water destination. Once there the instructors took out the collecting materials and explained to the students how to collect animal specimens without hurting them. Each student was partnered up. One of the partners went into the water first with a bucket, small fish net, and a small paint brush sponge.  The other student stayed on the bank to separate the different species into separate containers.

Afterwards, the class came back together to discuss what they found. Depending on what kinds of micro-invertebrate species they had found, they could determine if the water was healthy or polluted. Students were pleased to discover that the water was good quality.

Then, students hiked up to the waterfall and we discussed what they had learned from this expedition.