A natural for environmental learningSummer school students from Four Corners and Cooper elementary schools are among the first to learn lessons in the Superior Municipal Forest in a new classroom.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Summer school students from Four Corners and Cooper elementary schools are among the first to learn lessons in the Superior Municipal Forest in a new classroom.
With a specially designed curriculum in hand, teachers sent the third and fourth graders on a scavenger hunt of sorts – to see what they could observe in the 4,600 acre forest on Superior’s west coastline.
“It certainly gives us another venue,” said Teacher Janie Fouts of Four Corners. She said while the Superior school district does have a classroom in the school forest south of the city, the municipal forest – and the curriculum designed to take advantage of its natural features provides additional opportunities for teaching and learning about the environment.
Through grants from Wisconsin Coastal Management and Department of Natural Resources, the city has created an outdoor classroom along the Millennium Trail.
The classroom features multiple benches that seat up to 60. Built to accommodate the school district, the classroom features a concrete slab that allows special needs students to take advantage of the specialized program, said Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan.
In addition to the outdoor classroom, six interpretive messages line the trail, give students the opportunity to learn more about the forest.
The city’s Environmental Services Division has created curriculum specific to the forest with activities, lessons plans and even a first aid kit teachers can check out for use. The curriculum is designed grade specific for elementary and middle school students; however, they could also be used by high school teachers, Morgan said.
Fouts said she was impressed with the curriculum, which even included the learning standards students would meet through the various activities.
“The outdoor classroom adds an exciting new element to the Superior Municipal Forest,” said Morgan.
The classroom itself is about three-quarters of a mile from the ski trailhead at North 28th Street and Wyoming Avenue. The interpretive trail signs are placed along the trail at each bench rest-stop and are designed to share the story of the Superior Municipal Forest with visitors. The Environmental Services Division of the Public Works Department received the grants and worked in partnership with other Public Works Divisions to complete the project, valued at $25,000.
Teachers who want to reserve the new classroom may call the Parks & Recreation Division at 395-7270. There is no cost for use, but Morgan said reserving the space will help to avoid scheduling conflict.