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The Outdoor School experience

What do sixth-graders learn about the natural world while they're in it?

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: SUSAN ALVAREZ - These Lake Oswego Junior High sixth-graders  were selected to be representatives in the tree planting ceremony at the end of Outdoor School, from left: Emily Glascock, Ryan Meerdink, Aiden Porter, Ellie Fehlman and Josi Hewes. The Outdoor School name of the staff member in the ceremony is Osprey. Local sixth-graders continued a decades-old tradition this fall: hands-on learning out in the field — literally — at Outdoor School.

The children moved through fields, forests and along rivers and streams, testing the pH of water, observing wildlife and studying the lush flora of Oregon. Students participate in Outdoor School throughout the state, spending about a week in a cabin in the wilderness and viewing the natural world up-close.

Lakeridge Junior High School’s Outdoor School took place Oct. 14-17 at Camp Magruder in Rockaway Beach and Camp Cedar Ridge in Vernonia. Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: SHANE KELLY - Lakeridge Junior High students learn science lessons in the wild, from left: Maddie Champion, Cory Brown, Jayson Bittner, Macy Barhyte and Alec Beckley.

Lake Oswego Junior High’s Outdoor School was Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at Camp Trickle Creek in Salem and Camp Cedar Ridge.

Students spend plenty of time hiking and walk around, which gives them exercise, and the children are away from electronic devices, LOJ teacher Fred Rodgers said.

"Outdoor School is a powerful learning experience on many levels.  First, it gives students hands-on lesson about ecology," Rodger said. "This allows students to really connect with nature and science.  Second, it gives students a classic camp experience where they have a blast participating in everything from leading campfire songs and skits to cleaning the kitchen."Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: SUSAN ALVAREZ - Lake Oswego Junior High teacher Fred Rodgers, center, smiles with his students.

Lakeridge Junior High science teacher Trevor Tesar agreed, “Outdoor school provides an opportunity for all students to leave the traditional classroom and step into the outdoors where learning occurs naturally.”

What students learned

  • “We learned about the pyramid of life,” said Joe Able of LOJ. “For example, the eagle was on top and the bottom was grass.”

  • “I learned about the environment and different animals,” said Luke Wyngarden of Lakeridge Junior High. “I also learned what animals need to live in their environment.”

    Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: SHANE KELLY - Lakeridge Junior High sixth-grader Sophie Borah is filling out her Outdoor School field study journal.

  • “I learned the different types of layers of soil,” said Kendall Kaelin of LOJ. “I think the bedrock goes miles and miles deep.”

  • “All the nature — I just enjoyed learning about the trees, and there’s a thing called a nursing log,” said Josi Hewes of LOJ, who was honored as one of the five students who plant a tree at the end of Outdoor School.

    What students liked

  • “I liked dissecting a squid. It was really fun. It was squishy,” said Tessa Divergilio of Lakeridge Junior High.

  • “I would say one of the coolest things I saw there was this frog, and it jumped right on my foot,” said Aiden Porter of LOJ. “I felt something land on my foot and jump off my foot and into the water.”

  • “I liked taking a hike through a natural-made tunnel,” Tessa said. “It was fun being outside, and I like taking hikes. It was pouring rain one day, but the rest of it was pretty fun.”

  • “There were these giant, 4-foot-long salmon in a stream,” said Casey James of LOJ, “and they were sitting there, laying around. We also learned about salmon and how they migrate upstream and downstream.”

  • “I really liked the cabins; they were really fun,” Luke said. “It’s nice, all the friends you can have with you and making new friends.”

    Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: SHANE KELLY - Lakeridge Junior High children reach for beads, which they earn at the end of each field study.

    By Jillian Daley
    503-636-1281, ext. 109
    email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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