Gainesville Daily Register
Nearly 200 students from Gainesville’s Robert E. Lee Intermediate School were treated to the benefits of an “outdoor classroom” through the school district’s annual trip to Leeper Lake, conducted Oct. 22 through Oct. 26.
The guides were faculty members Tracy Henry, Christa Hawk, Wayne Molsbee and B.J. Banks. This was a curriculum-based outdoor learning experience. Topics such as erosion, root systems, wildlife and water conservation were discussed.
This was the fourth annual Leeper Lake trip; the students who attended were able to take learned classroom ideas such as plant reproduction, growth, adaptation, geology and plant identification and then further absorb this knowledge in a hands-on setting. The event was made possible by a grant from the Gainesville Independent School District Education Foundation and the coordination of Leeper Lake Inc.
“Our fifth grade science department at Lee has, yet again, done a terrific job to provide our students an opportunity for learning that is second to none,” said faculty member Henry. “Lee intermediate School students had the opportunity to spend a day learning in the outdoors at Leeper Lake. Students spent one day in immersive field experiences provided by an outdoor classroom bountifully supplied with a variety of living plants and animals.”
Henry added that the children participated in activities that carried their attentions beyond regular everyday classroom learning and provided them with a unique experience-based experience.
“Firsthand, they received the science knowledge and skills that are essential to their education in a rich learning environment,” Henry said. “Students had the opportunity to study the flora, fauna and geology of the Leeper Lake area.”
Henry added that she guided the instructional team along with Hawk. Day camp activities included hiking; investigating examples of weathering, erosion and deposition; identifying native plants and animals; and introducing species and creating casts from animal tracks.
The students used journals to record their observations and to reinforce learning. The journals were later filed and will be used back in the classroom as a review and assessment tool.
All activities, Henry added, are intended to engage the students in understanding the complexities of a natural ecosystem.
“We made it through pouring rain, hot and cold temperatures, but the kids had a great time and, hopefully, learned a lot,” she said.