Building boats and racing them down the creek was the order of the day on October 29th for fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because field educators from Muddy Sneakers took the class on an expedition to Fires Creek to learn about force and motion.
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.
While at Fires Creek, students had to construct a boat and see how fast it could travel in the creek in 11 seconds. Students made a hypothesis, tested their boats, made adjustments and then tested them again. They also investigated how a pulley system works by trying to find the best way to get a rope over a tree limb to lift a weighted backpack off the ground.
Fifth grade science teacher at the school, Gina Stafford, said, “The students loved the trip not just because it was fun, but because they were divided into small groups and were really able to focus on what the instructors were teaching. I loved seeing the kids so involved with the activities and enjoying the outdoors. They really did get muddy sneakers!”
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grade students at The Learning Center Charter School spent the month of October
immersed in a STEM and PBL project all about bats.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and PBL stands for project based learning. Students at The Learning Center charter school are very familiar with each since students at the school engage in STEM and PBL education daily.
A targeted STEM
education approach ensures students engage in science, technology, engineering
and mathematics regularly. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain
knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate
and respond to an authentic, complex question, problem, or challenge.
Of course the second grade students read about bats but they also expanded their studies across the curriculum. In science, students learned that bats are flying mammals that are important for our environment. In geography, they learned that bats live in warmer climates, closer to the equator and that no bats live in the continent of Antarctica. In math, they learned how to read thermometers as related to the preferred climates of bats as well as measurements of bats’ wingspans.
“Bats are a good fit for students in the month of October due to Halloween,” said second grade teacher Stephanie Hopper. “The kids are interested in spooky things and I take the opportunity to harness that curiosity and use it in every subject we study and really delve into the subject deeply.”
Hopper added that “What we could have learned about bats in
one lesson on one day is nothing compared to the deeply engaged learning that
we participated in during our PBL unit with bats as the overall theme,” said
Each Halloween students at The Learning Center Charter School participate in their annual Makers Mash. Students make decorated/carved pumpkins, monsters from upcycled materials, and come dressed in costumes in all sorts of categories such as traditional, upcycled, yearly themed and group categories. Judges are on hand to pick winners in a wide variety of categories and even award cash prizes. This yearly Maker event gets the creative juices flowing and gets students thinking about the school’s annual School Maker Faire held each March.
Second grade recently learned all about weather patterns and climate. Part of their learning included satellites as they monitor and track weather patterns and changes over periods of time. STEM time was devoted to designing and building satellites. Students had a great time and enjoyed sharing the satellites they designed and built.
Fifth graders recently made paper mache Trojan horses as part of their social studies on ancient Greece. As a school that works to foster an E-STEAM environment, mixing a hands-on art project with a study of history is a perfect example of how we do it.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art & agriculture and math.
Want to know more about E-STEAM? Fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.
For the third 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.
On the second day, students focused on matter and the water cycle. Students did a scientific experiment with transpiration where they placed baggies on leaves and collected data about which leaves had the most transpiration. They also did an experiment where they had to create a representation of the water cycle.
The students really are excited to learn more on future Muddy Sneakers expeditions!
Want to know more about our approach to using the outdoors as our classroom? Fill out the form below.