Outdoor Education at Walden School
May 8, 2014
At Walden School, stewardship for the world is a cornerstone of learning, and every day students think about how their experiences are impacting the world around them. Science teacher Drew Gagne heads the Outdoor Education program at Walden and led a trip of fifth graders to Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) April 21-25 and a trip of third graders to Joshua Tree National Park April 28-30. Students confronted issues that deepened their understanding of the environment that helps to support life on this planet.
While fifth graders were hiking, snorkeling (day and night), tide pooling, and kayaking they were immersed in a wide variety of disciplines such as biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, and marine conservation. Along with these activities, they also applied their knowledge of the scientific method in marine biology labs studying algae, plankton, invertebrates, sharks, and marine mammals.
Guided by instructors from Boojum Institute, third grade students learned about desert ecology and geology, and also participated in rock climbing and scrambling activities. Evening programs included astronomy and a community campfire.
Gagne has created an experiential science program for Walden School designed to provide students with meaningful hands-on science learning, build a positive self-outlook, foster a sense of teamwork and community, and encourage an understanding of and connection to our environment. Carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflective practices, critical analysis, and a synthesis of information gathered. Walden believes that authentic learning happens when students are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically.
Walden School’s science-based outdoor learning adventures support students as they ask questions, investigate their world, experiment, and solve problems. By assuming responsibility for their own learning, a Walden student constructs personal meaning from the expeditions and develops a curiosity for future learning.