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.”
Charter school continues “Maker Challenges” during remote learning
The Learning Center Charter School has a history of STEM education and cultivating a “maker” environment on campus. In fact, back in March before stay-at-home orders were issued for the state, the school hosted its fifth annual School Maker Faire.
A School Maker Faire is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what you’ve made and to share what you’ve learned with others. Schools host Maker Faires because they are a perfect combination of part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. School Maker Faire exhibitors, or “makers,” are primarily students—either as individuals, clubs, classes or groups. And Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.
Despite students being at home and completing the school year remotely, Head of School, Ryan Bender, has been sure to continue encouraging the maker spirit among students.
Each school day, Bender posts video morning announcements on the school’s Facebook page. On Mondays his announcements include the week’s “Makers Challenge” along with inspiration and encouragement on how to participate and share what students make.
“Students have made everything from catapults to animal habitats and innovative footwear as part of the Maker Challenges since remote learning began,” said Bender.
Bender added that parents have communicated their appreciation for the Maker Challenges as a means to keep their students engaged in their remote studies and excited about each school week.
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As part of an ongoing exploration of science in first grade, students experimented with dyeing different types of fibers with both artificial and natural dyes.
They dyed wool fiber and cotton string and were very surprised by some of the results. They hypothisized that the Kool-Aid dye would result in brighter colors than it actual did. They also thought that the purple cabbage would result in a similar purple dye when, in fact, it did not.
All of their findings were on display in the classroom at our annual School Maker Faire in March.
First and second grade students worked collaboratively on a project that was displayed at our annual School Maker Faire in March. After reading “Charlie Needs A Cloak” by Tomie dePaola, students made sculptures from recycled objects.
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Fourth grade students had an incredible display of the famous people in history sculptures that they made at our annual School Maker Faire in March.
Students researched famous people in history and then recreated them as seen here. The photos do not do them justice. They were incredible to see in person.
These sculptures, of course, allowed the students to experiment with a new form of art but also required them to delve into history, sharpen their research skills, practice their writing skills in a written report, and dive deep into their studies.