Each year, our fifth grade students spend the year doing field work with 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.
In early February, students had a fun outdoor science excursion. Students trekked in the woods (The Outdoor Learning Center) to observe a flock of robins searching for food, then searched under the leaves to find a few myriapods (centipedes and millipedes), spiders, and other fun creepy crawlies.
Next, students learned about weather measurement tools, cloud types, evaporation, air density/pressure zones, and how all these factors play together to create the weather effects we are all already familiar with. Teacher, Mr. Fenris, was the “Sun, the Great Evaporator” evaporating our 5th grade water molecules in a Red-light, Greenlight style game.
Finally, they built and decimated a model city with EXTREME weather (handfuls of leaves).
First grade students spent time outdoors learning about ecosystems as part of their science studies. The Outdoor Learning Center on our campus is a living, breathing, science laboratory and our first grade students love being in it!
First graders spent time in one of the many school gardens collected marigold seed. This gardening activity was part of science class where they were learning about what plants need to live and grow. They also were learning about the life cycle of a plant.
Students at The Learning Center Charter School are outside a portion of each school day. The school has an official screened room dubbed The Outdoor Learning Center as well as numerous gardens and trails.
Students regularly can be found doing art, reading, learning science, participating in PE, learning math, gardening, or having recess outdoors.
“Having our students outside is just what we’ve always done,” said Shelley Farmer, physical education staff and STEM coordinator at the school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
“Our campus sits right near the river and Cherokee elders have told us that it would have been prized Cherokee land,” said Farmer. “That in addition to the Cherokee people and culture so prevalent in our region, we make it a point to study the tribe, their language, culture, and traditions each school year.”
Farmer added that students are learning new Cherokee words each week. Students recently learned that osiyo means hello in Cherokee.
The school also includes traditional crafts in their studies. Students recently made Dream Catchers from natural materials found around the school’s Outdoor Learning Center.
“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Farmer. “Layering on the culture of the Cherokee Nation enriches those experiences.”
During this remote learning environment that our students and staff have been experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily, has included activities in her science lessons that get students outside exploring the outdoors.
Students were tasked with an outdoor challenge to build a fairy fort or a troll tower to welcome tiny outdoor friends. Students had a wonderful time at home interacting with the great outdoors to create beautiful dwellings.
Additionally, students were also guided on how to take tree and leaf rubbings to help properly identify trees in nature.
You might recall that our fifth graders spend the year doing field work with 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 spent the day at Hanging Dog Campground learning about Energy and Heat Transfer. Students learned about heat transfer, insulators, and conductors, by testing the temperature of a rock in its original setting, then taking the rock and trying some different methods to warm the rock up and then testing the temperature again.
They also created a habitat out of only natural and native materials to see who could create the warmest environment. They tested their habitats by inserting a heated bottle of water and checked the temperature before inserting the water and at about 10 minutes after inserting the water. They also got to sample some pine needle tea as they learned about conduction, convection, and radiation.