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Environmental & Place-based Education

Environmental Education (EE) is a weekly class for PreK through 9th grade. Classes meet outdoors, in all kinds of weather, to explore the varied habitats on the school property. Our students learn about the environment and its interconnected systems, as they observe, collect data, and document their observations.

Place-Based Education is defined by the Center for Place-Based Learning and Community Engagement as an “immersive approach” to education. It “places students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences.” These experiences are used as a foundation for the study of our core subjects. Language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science are all incorporated into place-based education.  At its core, place-based education (PBE) can happen anywhere, and anytime. It uses the power of PLACE.

How are we implementing Place Based Education? What is our focus when we teach students Environmental studies at CLCS?

In our approach to Environmental studies, we look to the Bible first. God made and loves His creation, and He wants us to value it also. God has a future and a plan for creation, and He wants us to take part in His plan. We should appreciate and care for nature, but not simply for its own sake. Through Environmental Education, engagement and authenticity is a priority for our students. (http://www.gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/What-is-Place-Based-Education-and-Why-Does-it-Matter-3.pdf)

In the Classroom

Full time and Hybrid-Homeschool students go outside weekly for Environmental Education. Our goal is that through inquiry and open-ended questioning, students will learn to understand and appreciate God’s creation. Teachers use a variety of relevant curriculum to create age appropriate lessons for each grade level. Students and teachers have access to the school gardens, wetlands and pond, as well as the fields, hedgerow areas, and mature and edge forest.

Students practice collecting data and observing with all of their senses. They learn to take samples while monitoring natural areas. Taking pictures, and looking for change over time are also important aspects of Environmental Ed at CLCS. They learn to use tools such as binoculars, field guides, and trail cams. Classroom learning enhances Environmental Ed, as students learn vocabulary and concepts associated with their experiences outdoors.

March: Maple Sugaring

The annual Maple Sugaring event is hosted by CLCS in March. This program was started with the help of Prof. Walter Poleman, who is a senior lecturer in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. We love when he comes to visit!

Sap from our school maple trees is collected for several weeks beforehand. Students from the different classes take turns collecting the sap. On Maple Sugaring Day the sap is boiled down in our evaporator. Students learn the historical, scientific, and cultural aspects of maple sugaring, while watching the sap turn into maple syrup!. The 7th and 8th grade students finish the maple sugaring process in the school kitchen, and a hydrometer test to measure the sap’s sugar content. Of course, it’s exciting to taste the product in all of its different stages, from raw sap to maple syrup! Hybrid-Homeschool students and their families are invited to participate throughout the day!

May: Bioblitz, with the local community

Bioblitz, another annual CLCS event, takes place at the end of the school year. Scientists, college students, parents, and alumni work with the students to identify and photograph plants and animals from the various habitats on our school property. It’s a privilege to work with local scientists from Cornell; field biologists, entomologists, ornithologists, botanists, and weed scientists. In 2019, during one busy day of biological surveying, we found more than 220 different species!

Ultimately, CLCS graduates will become leaders, stewards and responsible citizens who deeply understand and love God’s creation.