Building, Creating and Inviting Exploration and Discovery On the Murray Nature Trail

  • Location
    Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Status

The Problem

Murray Elementary in Charlottesville Virginia has a wonderful nature trail on the campus. This fall we began a student centered project based science project with the first graders of Murray. We started with the driving question of seasonal change and how it affects the wildlife of Murray. Over the months, walking along the nature trail and exploring signs of wildlife, insect movement, tracks in the snow, frog eggs in the bog, bird behavior and many other topics sparked by the first graders’ curiosity, we realized Murray could use an outdoor classroom space. When the first graders went outside, they came back with genuine excitement and many more questions than answers. To better foster outdoor learning and the creative thinking that comes from being outside, we are working to create spaces and kits along the nature trail that will encourage Murray Elementary to get outside and learn. The students have divided up into three working groups based on their interests: Birds, Art and Structure. Within these groups the first graders are learning more about their topic and before the end of the school year, will create an outdoor learning space and kits to give to the school to foster creative questioning and learning outdoors.

Our Plan

The “explore and research” part of the project began this Fall. In March we narrowed down our interest groups. In April we created goals for our classroom kits and made a map of the area. This Friday we will propose our project to the school Principal to get approval to use the space the students have chosen. We will spend the remainder of April and May putting together the classroom kits, building the outdoor classroom space and creating field guides for the nature trail. At the end of May or the first week in June we will present the outdoor classroom space and kits to the rest of the school.

Themes Addressed

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    Community Enhancement
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The Benefit

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