Through my student teaching internship at Shiloh Middle School, I was given the incredible opportunity to accompany my students at Outdoors School, which is held at a nature center called Camp Hashawha. Outdoors School is a program that Carroll County holds which gives every 6th grader in the county the chance to spend a week at Hashwha and learn about nature, conservation, recycling, and what they can do in their own backyard to help the environment.
At first, I was very reluctant about attending Outdoors School, since I am not an outdoorsy person. The idea of spending all day outside around bugs and other animals was not appealing to me. However, the first day I went, I was enthralled by how excited my students were. I was also excited about the idea of learning things that I have never had a chance to learn, since nothing like this existed where I went to school. My first day there, we played a Wildlife Survival Game, which allowed students to use knowledge that they had learned about the environment, food chains, shelter, and how animals find food in order to simulate keeping themselves alive. Each student was given the task of being a certain animal, some herbivores, some omnivores, and some carnivores. Throughout the game, the students had to find food and water sources in order to help themselves stay alive. I had the task of playing the car. Anytime a student ran while they were on asphalt, I had to honk a horn at them and take a life card away from them. This simulated roadkill, but also made sure that nobody got hurt by running through a parking lot or on a concrete path.
The next few times I went to Outdoors School, this time with a different group of students, I got to learn about Watersheds of the area and how to keep the Chesapeake Bay from becoming polluted. I also got to learn about habitats and what kinds of areas are good habits for animals. During this class, our hiking group also played a game called “Camouflage.” Whenever the teacher would yell the word “CAMOUFLAGE,” we all had to run and try to hide from her. After she counted to ten, if she could see us, then she pretended to eat us. This allowed students to really figure out whether or not a habitat was beneficial for animals. Both of these classes I got to attend were completely interactive. Students went on hikes through the nature center looking for information. They were also praised when they did something good for the environment, like picking up litter that others had left on the ground.
A program like Outdoors School is incredible, since it really allows students to see that they can learn so much outside of an ordinary classroom. I am so glad that being at McDaniel has given me the chance to participate in something as valuable as this program!