I don’t remember much of anything about third grade. I don’t remember what I learned in math, nor do I remember the topic of a single classroom project. Heck, I don’t even remember my teacher’s name.
But what I DO remember was the day I received my pet caterpillar. I remember designing a complete personality and backstory for him, and adoringly naming him “Plumpy”. I remember staring at Plumpy’s small jar which sat on the windowsill of the classroom, watching in amazement as Plumpy hung upside down and spun himself a silky cocoon. I remember a week later when our class walked to a nearby park and simultaneously released our metamorphosed butterflies into the world (at this point, I realized that the name I had given my chubby caterpillar was no longer appropriate). I remember exactly where I was standing as I watched my butterfly float into the sky. For months following this experience, I remember explaining very matter-of-factly the life cycle of a caterpillar to every single person I came across, whether they feigned interest or not.
15 years later, when I became a teacher myself, I needed to remind myself that my students would not remember that perfect worksheet that I spent 2 hours creating. They definitely wouldn’t remember the details from that lesson on the parts of a plant, no matter how well I thought it had gone. The lessons that stick with kids are the ones that involve powerful experiences, the ones that involve a hands-on challenge or discovery. This is where the magic happens– despite how difficult it is to produce this in the classroom.
This is why Calleva is committed to partnering with schools to provide experiential field trips that supplement and enrich the classroom content. Now more than ever, we need to remind ourselves that our role is not simply to pass on pieces of information that our students can google themselves. Our goal is to expose students to rich experiences which awaken their own sense of curiosity, purpose and passion. We want to inspire lifelong learners, who are engaged and excited about the world around them. We have an obligation to inspire a love of the outdoors for our children, who will be the ones responsible for protecting these resources in the future.
Here at Calleva, we have the amazing opportunity to create outdoor experiences for students of all ages — some at our farm, others on rivers & trails all over the DC area. For example, 7th and 8th graders at our farm get their hands dirty as they test and compare soil samples and learn about compost. We experiment with a model windmill and learn about sustainable sources of energy on the farm. We splash around in streams and conduct chemical water testing to analyze the stream’s health. We design each program to support classroom learning in meaningful and impactful ways.
Calleva staff can’t wait for warmer weather and for future opportunities to expose kids to the magic of the outdoors! We’re in the process of creating a “catalog” of school program options. Keep an eye on Calleva’s Groups page to stay up to date!
~ Sarah Raymond (aka. Reschovsky) – Director of School Programs