Lenoir County school takes the classroom outdoors

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s not every day that you see kids shoveling dirt as part of their school day, but that’s exactly what happened today at the Contentnea-Savannah School in Lenoir County. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences brought their Using The Outdoors To Teach Experiential Science, or UTOTES, program to the school to help teachers and staff tie nature into their science curriculum. The program has helped over 200 schools across the state since starting in 1991.

Amy Jones, principal at Contentnea-Savannah School, explains what it means to her school:

”Not only are we able to create two habitats, but the museum staff also comes to our school and does professional development with our teachers throughout the year.”

A mini-pond and bog now sit just outside the school to help students learn more about the great outdoors.

”I think our class is gonna benefit from this because we’re gonna be learning more about science and more hands on things and not just learning it from a screen,” says Anna Owens, a 7th grader at the school.

Anna further explains the importance of learning outside the classroom.

”We’re learning about the environment more than just machines and electricity and I think it’s good because we need to learn more about what’s outside and not what’s always gonna happen inside,” says Owens.

Creating this bog environment for carnivorous plants not only creates a new learning environment for students. It also helps the environment.

”When we’re putting in a habitat like this, it really isn’t just because it’s a benefit to the students,” explains Melissa Dowland, coordinator of teacher education at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “It’s also because it’s an act of conservation. We’re actually providing habitat for some of those living creatures.”

Frogs, tadpoles, and other animals are expected to naturally call this area home. Museum staff will be back to the school in December to plant carnivorous plants in the bog. One of those, the venus fly trap, is native to eastern North Carolina.

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