Highland Park students create
an outdoor classroom

Digging the pond (12k)
First we had to dig the hole.

The pond empty (12k)
Then we added rocks and
filled it with water.

Plants around the pond (12k)
We landscaped and enjoyed
our pond all year!

For many years, the courtyard area at Highland Park was overlooked as a resource for teachers. However, in the fall of 1995, it was decided that the area would be developed as an outdoor science classroom. Plans were drawn up by Kathy Johnston, a fifth grade teacher. Principal David Meers contracted the labor for concrete sidewalks, an outdoor stage, and benches.

In March of 1996, the fifth gade science classes began to develop the area. Each grade level was given a plot of land to landscape. Parents were asked to donate plants, flowers, and seeds for planting. The response was tremendous.

Additional funding was gained by recycling paper products through Kimberly Clark, newspapers through the Knoxville News Sentinel, and aluminum cans. Apenny drive was held in the spring of that year. The students in Kindergarten through fifth grade collected 588 pounds of pennies. These pennies were used for our outdoor classroom AND we bought acreage in the rainforest!

The HPE students have enjoyed the area a great deal. From planting bulbs, spreading mulch, and digging a pond (which is three feet deep and eight feet long) they have seen the various elements that are necessary in maintaining a natural habitat for plants and animals. Students become budding entomologists as they collect and identify insects. They have observed Monarch butterflies, frogs, turtles, rabbits, birds, squirrels, and will soon see Koi in the pond.

There is still much work to be done on the classroom. Several areas need to be re-landscaped and benches are planned for quiet reading. With the help of the community, students and teachers, we believe this science area could become one of our most important educational tools.

We also raised monarch butterflies from caterpillars found in our outdoor classroom. Here they are.

Kathy Johnston

Whole class small (20k)
Click here to see a larger picture

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