Learning at the Outdoor Lab!
By Christine Payack (Miss Turtle)
Look! A long sinewy millipede crawls under decaying bark.
Feel! Soft caterpillars and slimy slugs undulate across our hands.
Listen! Nocturnal owls call while the stream gurgles in the darkness.
Sniff! The smell of moist leaves drifts through the air.
These are some of the learning moments that take hold of our senses at the Outdoor Lab –a place protected and far removed from urban encroachment. In this living classroom, we “explore, wonder and learn” and develop a deep love and respect for the natural world.
How can this jewel of nature be best investigated as an extension of the Arlington Public Schools’ science curriculum? How can the Outdoor Lab best support each school community as partners in learning?
With teacher input and advice, we are developing new lessons to tap into all that the Lab has to offer. By identifying key life science concepts that vertically integrate and spiral through the grades, our comprehensive and fluid activity choices will meet the needs of teachers and their students during the school year.
The Animal Lab is being transformed into a microcosm of our diverse 225-acre facility. It is here that students investigate the natural world through the lens of the indigenous animal ambassadors who reside there. Through their stories, the animals teach us all about the species that interact and depend on each other in their food webs, habitats and communities beyond the Animal Lab‘s doors.
Outside, students continue to explore the natural world through active and hands-on learning and observation. As scientific thinkers, they ask questions, build knowledge and expand on science principles, such as change, cycles, patterns and relationships in the living world.
What are some of the essential questions and themes that cycle through the seasons?
“What is an ecosystem?”
“How does energy flow through a food chain?”
“How do organisms depend on each other in their habitats and communities?”
“What are the roles of producers, consumers and decomposers in their environments?”
“What are the life cycles of living organisms?”
“How do specific adaptations and traits allow an organism to survive in its environment?”
“Why and how do scientists classify organisms into different categories?”
“What is the human impact on the natural world?”
“How can we positively impact the survival of the living world around us today and in the future?”
Come join us any day to investigate these questions while you . . .
Look, touch, smell and hear!
Explore, wonder and learn!
And protect the best classroom of all –the one that is outdoors!