Seventh-graders come to campus
On Friday, April 13, hordes of Waterville Junior High School seventh-graders overtook Runnals Hill.
The Experiential Education Day, put on by Associate Professor of Education Adam Howard’s “Education, the Environment and Social Justice” class is “[the students'] major semester assignment,” Howard said. “Essentially it’s an entire day…[centered] around environmental issues,” he said.
Ryan Fischer ’12, one of Howard’s students, said that the event “gets kids out of the class and into nature. It takes them out of their normal setting” so that they can experience the issues about which they are learning in a way that is more memorable than in the typical classroom setting. These issues include water pollution, recycling and waste, energy and carbon footprints and “respecting the natural world,” Fischer explained.
Stations were spread out on Runnals Hill and each focused on an environmental issue. Seventh-graders participated in true or false games to learn about the amount of energy individuals waste, attempted to remove vegetable oil from a cup of water to mimic the difficulty of cleaning up oil spills and participated in a relay in which they raced to properly sort recyclables and waste products, among other activities.
Fischer said that he and his peers had been working on the event "since pretty much the beginning of the year.” He explained that each student in his class had a role to play in the planning of the event, and everyone spent time outside of class each day to compensate for the extra responsibility the class required. Howard said that his students “did all the fundraising, organizing, scheduling…they did everything.” Bonnie Rogers, a language arts teacher at Waterville Junior High, said that “this [day] goes along with the unit [the students] are learning in science class,” and that it “get[s] them out and moving and interacting with one another. It’s great to see them outside.” Rogers also described her own pleasure in having the students participate in the event. “I get to see different sides of them, which is kind of nice,” she said. This is the fourth year a class has put on the Experiential Education Day, and Rogers said that “it’s great, and we’re so happy to get welcomed back each year.”
Not only does the day benefit the seventh grade students and their teachers, but it is also an important experience for College students who are considering related professions like Allison Shepherd ’12, who is "looking to [pursue] outdoor education.”
“I’ve been working at a ropes course,” Shepherd said, but although it has the experiential element, it does not incorporate “actual education.” She explained that her participation in the Experiential Education Day is “pretty relevant” to what she wants to do in the future since it incorporates both the outdoors and experience-based learning.
Since “the students in ED316 have been learning about the different philosophies and approaches to environmental education,” Howard said that the Experiential Education Day “allows them to put what they’ve been reading about into practice… [and] gives them a chance to learn a little more about what it actually takes to lead and facilitate learning experiences for others.”