WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/936516

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Page 168 of 227

As part of that fresh look, Earth and space science have been inte- grated into all levels, starting with Kindergarteners learning about weather, second graders learning how wind and water can change land- scapes, and fifth graders learning about the interactions and movement of the sun and Earth. Embedded in all of these units of study are outdoor learning com- ponents. First graders track seasonal changes in shadows and plant life, third graders test weather instruments, and fourth graders apply their new learning during a performance assessment "in the field" as they visit geologic sites in Wellesley looking for evidence of weather- ing, erosion, and deposition. Outdoor learning experiences also play a major role in the life science curricula as students apply and extend their classroom learning to their schoolyard setting. "Outdoor learn- ing has changed a lot since the early days of the Nature/ Environmental Walk program and will continue to grow and expand as we endeavor to offer students more direct experience with the content they are learn- ing, giving students opportunities to apply their developing under- standing in a real-life context and to connect with nature and natural systems," Collins says. Collins worked with the National Audubon Society to create the elementary schools' first grade science unit called "Seasonal Patterns of Change," that gets students outside during each of the four seasons to observe the changes going on, including changes to the position of the sun, plants, shrubs, and trees. Many local educators and parents say they've witnessed the benefits of outdoor education as demonstrated by their students and children. They've noticed improved problem solving skills and teamwork, better leadership skills, and increased focus and retention of topics studied. Going forward, Collins plans to have outdoor activities continue and extend the learning that begins in the classroom. One of her favorite quotes is by educator David Sobel, who helped develop the philosophy of place-based education. He says, "If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it." W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 167

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