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.

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.

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.

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part I

For the second year in a row, fifth graders at our school are participating in Muddy Sneakers.  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.

Students had their first excursion to learn the rules and procedures during these field work expeditions.  Students learned things like how to identify poison ivy, what to do if they see a snake in the woods, how to use compasses and magnifying glasses, and how to behave around stinging insects.

This first day was spent walking the trails in our own Outdoor Learning Center.  During the lessons and hikes, students found some really cool fungus and discussed it as the group. They found Cobalt Crust, Stinkhorn Mushrooms, and a blanket of white fluff on a tree branch that they identified as Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), a species that lives off the sap of beech trees.

The students really are excited to learn more on future Muddy Sneakers expeditions!

4th Grade E-STEAM focused on Social Studies & Science– Harvesting Seed Beads

Recently, fourth grade teacher, Carrie Dyer, and elementary science teacher, Emily Willey, collaborated on Native American science and social studies E-STEAM project.

Students learned in science that technology evolves with society and that technology is anything or system that makes a process easier. Student went out into the school gardens and harvested seed bead plant, a plant that produces a little seeds with a natural hole through them that native Americans often used to make jewelry. The plant is technically a native from Africa but has been used in America for many years.

The students were challenged to see how many they could collect in a certain amount of time. It was interesting to watch the students process in gathering change. Some students quietly sat and picked the seed off the plant. Others picked up seeds that had dropped from the pile of plants pulled from the ground. Finally one group decided to start whacking their plant on the ground to knock the seeds off and collect them. Ms. Emily told that they basically had discovered the threshing of grains.  The class discussed how indigenous peoples harvested grains and had to thrash the plants to get the seed off of the plant.  They further discussed other systems of production and how need for survival encourages the development of technology. Students then worked with Ms. Carrie to incorporate the seed beads into a Native American project that tied in with their social studies standards.

1st Grade Science — All About Plants

First graders have been learning all about plants and what they need to survive. They have experimented with germinating radish seeds which created much excitement! They even transplanted their radish sprouts into the garden for a future fall harvest.

1st Graders Begin Work on Fairy House in The Outdoor Learning Center

Ms. Emily, Elementary Science and Outdoor Learning Coordinator, and Ms. Katie, First Grade Teacher, collaborate to bring education alive by tying in nature to lessons as well as providing students an education in the greatest classroom of all- the great outdoors.

Recently, the teachers had the first grade students flexing their engineering muscles by beginning construction for miniature fairy houses.

While in the woods of The Outdoor Learning Center so many exciting discoveries happen. Students find interesting animals like slugs, caterpillars.  They find peculiar mushrooms and toadstools.  They inspect the variety of textures of bark, sticks, leaves and roots. They compare and contrast and become enchanted with their experiences developing the story of their fairies needs and housing.

Press “play” below to watch how excited one student is about his work!

Ms. Emily and Ms. Katie were so impressed at how quickly this class adapted to independently working in the woods!

3rd Grade Explores Sensory Tea Garden

Third grade students enjoyed their first day back at school by exploring the sensory tea garden planted by the previous third grade class. They chewed on peppermint leaves and fennel twigs, and sniffed lemongrass and pineapple sage.

They also explored all the growth that has taken place in the vegetable garden they helped plant and maintain last spring.  They found all kinds of peppers, herbs such as basil and chives, Roma tomatoes, chard, broomcorn, sunflowers, and African seed beads.