Repost with permission from: https://www.smore.com/2kfcr
by Kirsten Beneke - Compass Charter School
Published October 2015
Intro by Jaimie Cloud: Client Feature
Michelle Healy and Brooke Peters (co-directors at Compass Charter School) first came to see me before they received their charter and three years before their school would open. They and their third co-director Todd Sutler have all been master teachers and wanted to start a K-5 school that educated for sustainability. I have been working with them ever since. We are in the second year of the build out of the school. They have done everything right. This is the way to start and sustain an excellent school designed around how students learn, for the future we want. Read what they are doing and understand why they have already been named one of the 41 Most Innovative Schools in the Country.
Students are learning how to be scientists by making observations and using their five senses. They are asking questions, making predictions, experimenting and sharing their findings.
- Measured gourds and pumpkins
- Found out whether objects float or sink
- Predicted which objects fall faster
- Made scientific drawings of nature
- Sorted natural objects
- Explored magnets
In the science center we made lava lamps, blew up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar, and experimented with milk, soap and food coloring. We made many "predictions" by guessing what will happen in our experiments!
First Graders are sharing what they know about the Earth, Sun, Moon and Stars. We are wondering about the solar system and asking many questions. Starting tomorrow we will begin our projects.
Some of the student ideas:
- Make a Planetarium
- Build a sun out of legos
- Create a weather center
- Paint a mural of constellations
Second Graders are studying natural ecosystems found in Brooklyn such as a forest, river or wetland. Students created group projects using recycled and natural materials to recreate these places. We created a picture map of Brooklyn showing what kinds of plants and animals are found in Brooklyn.
We have started building aquaponics systems to grow food in the classroom using fish waste to fertilize the plants.
If you would like to contribute a goldfish let me know!
Children need connection with the natural world:
- Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
- Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
- Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
- Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
- Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
- Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
- Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
- Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.
--- from the National Wildlife Federation
Ideas on Natural Places to Go:
- Fort Greene Park
- Prospect Park
- Marine Park
- Greenwood Cemetery
- Jacob Riis Park
- Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
- Sunset Park
- Dead Horse Bay
"Why We All Need A Dose of Vitamin N" by the Daily Mail
"Nature Smarts" by Mindful Parenting
"The Greenest City in America" by Treehugger
Events and Classes:
- Connected Worlds nysci.org.
- Brooklyn Sewers: What’s Up Down There? (Through May 29) brooklynhistory.org.
- Cooking With Frida (Through Nov. 1) nybg.org.
- The Gazillion Bubble Show: The Next Generation (Friday through Sunday) gazillionbubbleshow.com.
- Honey Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) wavehill.org; grounds admission on Saturday is free until noon.
- If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home (Through Jan. 17) Maps cmany.org.
Nature's peace will flow into you
as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own
freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off
like autumn leaves.
- John Muir