Chesterton Tribune



Discovery Charter School using new land for outdoor education

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Discovery Charter School is not letting its newly acquired five acres southwest of its campus sit idle.

The Board of Directors viewed a slideshow presentation at its meeting last week illustrating how Discovery students are interacting with the natural world in pace-based learning programs.

In September, first grade classes began a compost bin with the help of school nurse Kristen Byrt to see what organisms live in the soil. A discussion was facilitated by Michelle Benson of the Porter County Soil and Water Conservation District on different kinds of soil -- e.g. sand and clay -- and what function it has in the ecosystem.

Educator from the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County Abe Paluch also visited first grade students bringing with him “red wiggler” worms to explain their unique anatomy.

Second-grade place based activities included tracking weather daily and using data to forecast what the next day was going to be like.

Middle school classes learned about invasive species, specifically phragmites, and their effect on individual habitats. Afterward, students removed many phragmite reeds from a ditch to the west of the school and made hypotheses about what would happen once they were removed.

Meanwhile, third graders went to the Paul Douglas Center in Miller Woods. Students identified plants and studied aquatic wildlife in a wetland area and explored other habitats hiking in the oak savannah.

Fifth graders traveled to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a canoe trip on the Little Calumet River. Students got to paddle along in a 24-foot voyager canoe and learned about the history of the area and water quality from National Lakeshore Rangers and representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Principal Ernesto Martinez has uploaded the PowerPoint slides to Discovery’s website to share with families.

“I think people are interested in that kind of stuff,” said Director Linda Simon.

Board president Laurie Metz said that the board strives to keep place-based curriculum a priority through its professional development and with the help of partners. She said Discovery teachers will continue each month to present a glimpse of what is happening in classes.

“Doing this not only lets everyone know that this is a priority, it also allows us as a board to see firsthand that the mission is being fulfilled,” Metz said.

PAC Update

In other matters, Parents Advisory Council president Lisa Apata said this month’s fall festival brought in $15,000 to support the school. Over 120 volunteers were on hand at the event. “That’s amazing,” Apata said.

The money that PAC raises goes to items in the classrooms or improvements needed at the school and alleviates some of the burden of Discovery’s budget. Recently the group helped purchase picnic tables and a concrete pad.

Apata said that over 5,000 box tops were collected in a contest between the classes this last month. Each box top earns 10 cents for Discovery.

Also, PAC will be hosting a pasta dinner fundraiser on Wednesday, Nov. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the VFW in Porter. Tickets are available until Nov. 7 and can be purchased through the PAC on Discovery’s website.


Posted 11/4/2014




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