Jun. 2—Fergus Falls Public Schools and the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC) have been engaged in a partnership that allows select students to split their school day between a standard classroom and an outdoor learning environment, a unique program that is the first of its kind.
The Prairie science class is composed of eight sections of students in either fourth or fifth grade. The half of their day spent at PWLC focuses on science, reading, language arts, art and applied math. The half of their day in a standard classroom covers additional math and art, health and social studies curriculum.
The use of the outdoor classroom at PWLC enables students to learn about where they live by using journals, studying naturalists, and basing learning on the phenology of when things take place in nature. These are the foundations of the Prairie science class.
"Taking students out on a daily basis so they can observe, wonder, and learn from the natural world is our primary goal," shared educator, Monique Davis. "The benefits this derives for the students, school district, and community are immeasurable. Not only are the children learning about the area they live in, but they are also growing in appreciation of it."
Applicable to their everyday lives, students are exposed to learning that grants them access to personnel who are experts in natural sciences. Knowledge and appreciation gained is then shared with others, connecting people and nature through the opportunity provided by the Prairie science class program.
At the end of the school year, fourth grade students enrolled in the program have a celebration day, where their families go to PWLC to get a taste of what their students have been learning throughout the year. With their child as a guide, personal reflections are shared, field experience is gained and recorded in a journal, and planting on the prairie as part of the restoration process occurs.
Parents of students entering the fourth or fifth grade are provided correspondence from the school district regarding the opportunity to be considered for the Prairie science class program. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the school directly.