School pond will become outdoor learning lab

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London Elementary School received a $5,000 Battelle For Kids STEM grant to purchase tools and supplies for students to explore the pond behind the school. The idea is to treat the pond as an outdoor learning lab.

(Posted Feb. 28, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The retention pond behind London Elementary School is taking on a new purpose.

Thanks to a Battelle For Kids STEM grant, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will have tools at their disposal to enjoy the pond as an outdoor learning lab.

London Elementary is one of 100 schools in Ohio to receive $5,000 to expand its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning projects through the Ohio STEM Learning Network.

“We will use the money to buy things like thermometers, binoculars, a weather station, and soil sampling kits,” said Carla Shaw, London City Schools director of digital learning and innovation.

Shaw, who wrote the grant application, said she envisions a wide array of potential learning activities. Students could keep statistics on a variety of observations, participate in national bird counts, analyze water samples, and catalogue the different types of wildlife they see.

“We’re already established as a Wild School by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, so this goes hand-in-hand with that,” Shaw said. “It helps students appreciate wildlife a little more in their community, and it enhances learning opportunities in the STEM field.”

The goal is to have the tools and supplies in hand in time to start utilizing the outdoor learning lab this spring, she said.

Long-term, the district would like to build a boardwalk into the pond and install seating along the shore, said Dr. Lou Kramer, district superintendent.

Marine Corps
Shaw’s efforts to help students also includes a trip to Parris Island, S.C., where she learned about the Marine Corps. She spent Feb. 8-11 at the Marine Corps Recruiting Command Educators Workshop.

“The purpose was to learn about the Marine Corps, as well as other branches of the military, so that we can help students make informed decisions about military pursuits (after high school),” Shaw said.

She and 37 other educators from Ohio and Michigan experienced a light version of bootcamp. They learned about the enlistment process and he education and career opportunities available through the military.

“With this experience, I’m able to have realistic and knowledgeable conversations with students who are considering this opportunity,” Shaw said.

She plans to share the information with other London City Schools staffers.

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