The School’s unique Partners in the Environment (PIE) Days have been a successful model for engaging the children with environmentally minded partners.
In a day devoted entirely to outdoor activities, the classes rotate through learning stations staffed by volunteers from various organizations such as Marian University EcoLab, IUPUI’s Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences, Marion County Master Gardeners, the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society, Indiana Landmarks, and Indiana Wildlife Federation.
The day includes outdoor cooking at the campsite and is well received by the children.
Example: Building Weed-Free Paths around Planting Boxes
In our spring 2009 PIE day event, I had the pleasure of working with middle school students to construct walkways around existing planting boxes. Prior to this project, a variety of weeds would grow 4-5 feet around the boxes, making them unusable for students. Students could do a wide array of projects using these boxes, but not while fighting major weeds every year!
Working alongside community partners, I was able to direct the construction of two walkways with sixth- to eighth-grade students.* The walkways were constructed with a solid base, weed barrier, and paver stones to create an area that was more inviting and required less maintenance. Now that the area is properly addressed for learning, the potential for hands-on educational activities is increased.
The best part of the project was seeing the students' sense of accomplishment when they viewed the area at the beginning of the next school year. They were impressed by how well the paths were able to keep back weeds, and they were excited to get into planting new things. This is just one example of how, working with community partners, students are able to complete unique educational activities on the land of Cold Spring School.
—Ben Palicki, Grade 8 Science Teacher
*In 2009, Cold Spring School included grades 7 and 8.