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Carpenters Elementary Sets Terrific Example With Outdoor Classroom

posted Oct 3, 2016, 6:31 AM by Chris Whitehorne   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 6:32 AM ]
It looks like Carpenters Elementary School really hit on something special with its creation of a living, outdoor learning place for students.
On the heels of winning the Conservation Organization of the Year Award — presented by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation at the 50th annual Conservation Achievement Awards in Nashville — comes a study that finds students in schools surrounded by more green space have an educational edge. 


The study tracked more than 2,000 second-to-fourth-grade students at 36 elementary schools in Barcelona, Spain, over the course of a year. The Associated Press reported that pupils whose schools were in the midst of more green space displayed a higher degree of attentiveness and working memory than those schools surrounded by concrete and other hard surfaces. The study doesn't confirm with certainty that Carpenters Elementary Students benefit similarly from their Outdoor Environmental Classroom, but it makes a strong case that they do. So does common sense. Green space reduces pollution and noise and encourages physical activity.

And at Carpenters it adds the educational benefit of exciting hands-on learning. The young students learn about birds, creeks, crustaceans, decomposition, insects, plants, springs and wetlands. They dip nets into the creek to catch aquatic insects, crawfish, fish, salamanders and tadpoles. Not only that, but the community benefits by raising generations of Blount Countians with knowledge of and respect for the natural environment. What could be more appropriate for a county that extends into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most diverse eco-systems in North America? When these young Blount Countians become adults and are tasked with deciding how to balance development with environment, it is important they understand the significance of losing land where foliage and wildlife thrive. Once lost, green space is rarely recovered.


There is not enough space here to individually name all those whose volunteer efforts brought the Carpenters Outdoor Environmental Educational Classroom to fruition. But they are all deserving of a hearty round of applause. And not just for what they've accomplished, but for the example they have set. The challenge now is for other schools and school systems to emulate the example so admirably set by Carpenters Elementary and its partners.

Matthew Stewart-The Daily Times