Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Let’s answer your questions about the Arlington Outdoor Lab!

Please check below for frequently asked questions and answers:


1. Is the Outdoor Lab open to the public?  Can my family come hike on the weekend?

No.  The Outdoor Lab is reserved for field trips and summer camps operated through Arlington Public Schools.  However, it is open for Arlington families twice a year for AOEA Open Houses, once in the fall and once in the spring.  Check News for updates.


2. How can my child come to the Outdoor Lab?

Your child can come to the Outdoor Lab one of three ways:

  1.  With his/her class on a field trip
  2.  As a summer camper
  3.  During a semi-annual AOEA Open House

3. Who owns the Outdoor Lab?

The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Lab is owned and maintained by the nonprofit Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA).


4. The Outdoor Lab staff seems like they really enjoy their work…are they volunteers?

While the Lab staff does very much enjoy their work, they are employees of Arlington Public Schools.


5. How often do students visit the Outdoor Lab?

There is an APS field trip group visiting the Outdoor Lab almost every single school day from September to June!


6.  How do I sign up for summer camp?

APS students can sign up for Outdoor Lab Summer Camp through the APS Summer School Program.  The APS Summer School Catalog, application forms and deadlines can be found at www.apsva.us/summer-school.

More information about summer camp can be found at www.apsva.us/science/outdoor-lab/


7. How can I volunteer/support the Outdoor Lab?

There are many ways for you to get involved.  Please check the Support page for ideas on how you can donate your time, your stories, or your money to help celebrate our 50th Anniversary.

During the week (Monday- Friday), you can volunteer at the Outdoor Lab facility with things such as invasive plant removal, garden maintenance, or trail improvement.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Outdoor Lab itself, please contact the Lab staff at 540.349.8279, neil.heinekamp@apsva.us or christine.payack@apsva.us.


8. Do you accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions?

During the school year: Please go to www.apsva.us/science/outdoor-lab/ to find our 5th grade overnight menu and hotdog cookout lunch menu, which include peanut- and tree nut-free products and vegetarian options. Any dietary needs beyond the above-mentioned become the responsibility of the parent and/or teacher. If you have any questions about food allergies and the food served at the Lab, please contact the Lab staff in advance of your child’s field trip at 540.347.2258 neil.heinekamp@apsva.us or christine.payack@apsva.us.

During summer camp: The summer camp cook will strive to meet any dietary needs, including but not limited to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, etc. The summer camp director or cook will contact you if necessary if you identify any dietary needs on your child’s summer camp sign-up paperwork. Of course, feel free to contact the summer camp director (540.347.2258) if you have questions at any point.


9. Where can I find more information about my child’s field trip?

Please go to www.apsva.us/science/outdoor-lab/ for more information, including:

  • Permission forms
  • Medical forms
  • Meal information and menus
  • Directions
  • Packing lists

10. What do students do at the Outdoor Lab?

The Outdoor Lab staff leads students in a wide variety of activities to support and supplement the classroom science curriculum including nature hikes and stream studies. Click here to find out more about Educational Programs for different grade levels.


11. If I’m a teacher, where can I find more information about planning my class’s field trip?

Please go to www.apsva.us/science/outdoor-lab/ for more information, including:

  • Field trip schedules
  • Permission forms
  • Medical forms
  • Meal information and menus
  • Directions
  • Packing lists

12. How big is the Outdoor Lab?

The Outdoor Lab is 226 acres and growing.


13. How many different animals live at the Outdoor Lab?

The Outdoor Lab has 30 documented species of mammals, 123 species of birds, 18 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians, 11 species of dragonflies, and 26 species of butterflies and moths.


14. How long has the Outdoor Lab been the Outdoor Lab? What was this land before it became the Outdoor Lab?

The AOEA was founded in 1967 and later purchased the original 195 acres to establish the Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Lab. The land was purchased from Mrs. Striker, who sold it for $100,000 less than other offers, with the stipulation that her land be preserved and protected.

More detailed info coming soon!

 

Frequently Asked Questions by Kids at the Lab


1. Are there snakes in the Snake Pit?

Sometimes. We often find snakes in the snake pit during warmer months.


2. Do the Outdoor Lab staff members live here?

No, we just work here, but staff does spend the night during 5th grade overnight field trips and summer camp.


3. Do the Outdoor Lab staff members sleep in the woods?

Sometimes, like when we spend the night during 5th grade overnight field trips and summer camp.


4. Are there bears at the Outdoor Lab?

Yes, but we rarely see them. We do occasionally find evidence of American black bears such as their scat, tracks or scratch marks.


5. Who would win in a fight – kingsnake vs. snapping turtle?

Kingsnakes are generally terrestrial, whereas snapping turtles are primarily aquatic, so they would not often encounter each other in the wild. However, kingsnakes can swim and snapping turtles do occasionally come up on land, such as when the females lay eggs or when they need to move to a new body of water, so there is the possibility they would encounter one another. Even though kingsnakes are powerful constrictors and immune to the venom of local venomous snakes, they would be no match for a snapping turtle’s powerful and sharp beak. The snapping turtle’s hard shell and larger size would protect it from the kingsnake’s constriction. On land, a kingsnake can move much faster than a snapping turtle, so the best choice would be for the kingsnake to try to escape.


6. Who would win in a race – snapping turtle vs. box turtle?

It would depend where the race was held. The box turtle is terrestrial and has claws that work well for digging and crawling so on land it has a substantial advantage over the primarily aquatic snapping turtle. However, if the race was held in the water, the snapping turtle’s webbed feet and streamlined shell would definitely secure its win over the box turtle, which cannot swim. If there was a way for the box turtle’s race course to be on land and the snapping turtle’s to be in the water, the race would be much closer, but the snapping turtle has a somewhat greater chance of winning.


7. How deep is Champs Pond?

Near the banks of Champs Pond, the water is only a foot or two deep, but the water could be up to 10-15 feet deep in parts of the center. However, the mud at the bottom of the pond is several feet deep.


8. Do you have Tigers? Monkeys? Alligators?

No, but we do have lots of other awesome animals including 30 documented species of mammals, 123 species of birds, 18 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians, 11 species of dragonflies, and 26 species of butterflies and moths.


9. Is the Outdoor Lab in Arlington?

No, the Outdoor Lab is located in Broad Run in Fauquier County, Virginia. We are about 40 miles west of Arlington.


10. What’s that?

You’re gonna have to be more specific.