The Meridian Blog

Cultivating the Wonders of Discovery

Place-based Education: Outdoor Explorations

Place-based Education: Outdoor Explorations

By: Science Program Coordinator, Kelsey Vollmer & Meridian’s Third, Fourth & Fifth Graders

This fall was busy with one of the highlights of Meridian’s Place-Based Program.  Third, Fourth, and Fifth grades all went on overnights in the Pacific Northwest Region to explore and experience the environment around them and make connections to what they have been learning in the classroom.

Third grade concluded their study of ecosystems with their visit to Camp Seymour in the southern Puget Sound area.  Here, they made connections between what they were learning in the classroom, science lab, and Meridian Park to a Pacific Northwest Forest.  Students studies decomposers under microscopes, recreated the life of a salmon, and investigated sea anemone reactions at the tide pool touch tank.

Fourth grade journeyed to Camp Orkila on Orcas Island, spotting Orca whales and discussing the watershed of the Salish Sea along the way.  At camp students were led through a series of team building activities to challenge their understanding of how to work with one another.  We also ventured out on an afternoon hike near Mountain Lake where students spent some time quietly taking in the environment around them and documented their experience in their Meridian nature journals.

Fifth grade connected their study of Lewis and Clark to their place as we headed down to Astoria, Oregon to retrace the footsteps of the expedition.  Students studied and drew the plants Lewis and Clark wrote about in their journals, looked out over the Columbia River and its surrounding watershed at the Astoria Column, and kayaked on Steamboat Slough and the Columbia River around Price Island.

By: Meridian 3rd Graders

We had a blast at Camp Seymour. Every lesson was information-packed, yet none of it was the slightest bit boring. It felt so much more engaging to be there learning in person. There was lots to learn and lots to do, and we were able to make some choices. We not only learned through games but also through observing different aspects of the forest, particularly the undergrowth. There were different activities like hiking to explore levels of the forest from the canopy, as well as learning about insects and marine life by interacting with the animals in a touch tank (it was a little scary). One of the reasons that we love Camp Seymour is the staff. They are nice and helpful, and make learning so interactive and fun! Even the recreational activities we did were mostly educational. Overall we had a wonderful adventure.

By: Meridian 4th Graders

Kelsey joined us at Camp Orkila and taught us a about salmon and their life cycle. Later this year we will have the opportunity to raise salmon, so we are excited to continue learning more. We loved Camp Orkila. It was a good mix of free time, team-building activities and science. We feel lucky to be able to have field trips that are engaging, it makes learning about our environment a lot more impactful.

By: Meridian 5th Graders

The fifth grade trip to Fort Clatsop was really awesome! It’s strange being there because we learn all about it in history books, but it is really something else to be there in person. We’re grateful we get to engage with history in an up close and personal manner. We got to see and experience things (in a more modern way of course) that Lewis and Clark did, and it gave us more context for what we were learning in the classroom. These types of field trips really expand our learning because we can relate back to those experiences and it makes us curious to learn more!