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Fifth annual Outdoor Education program makes science real for sixth-grade pupils



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John Ketzner and Ian Wohlstadter help Jacob Smith climb over a 10-foot wall during the Outdoor Education program.
October 05, 2005 - Science became real for Green Park Lutheran School sixth-graders when they recently participated in the school's fifth annual Outdoor Education program at Wartburg Park, south of Waterloo, Ill.

The purpose of the program is twofold, according to a school news release. First, outdoor education enriches the science curriculum by providing pupils with the opportunity to conduct studies that cannot be done in the classroom. The primary outdoor experiment of the two-day outing was a hands-on pond study.

The program also helps pupils form a cohesive group and to learn to work to-gether. A short caving expedition allowed the sixth-graders the chance to depend on one another as they worked through new challenges.

One participant, Alex Arensmeier, stated in the release, "My favorite part about Camp Wartburg was the cave. GIC (Group Initiative Course) was a little hard. I was really relieved to go home."

Besides hands-on science and improving group dynamics, pupils also applied some practical math skills through orienteering. In addition, a brief discussion of trees from the Bible and a time of singing and reflection around the campfire tied in a religious element to the experience.

Sixth-grader Madison Schoen stated, "Camp Wartburg is great. You don't even know you are learning things because you're are more focused on the fun than anything else."

Faculty sponsor Ken Horvath explained, "For some of these kids, it is the first time they have stayed away from home. Out-door education not only lets them learn in an outdoor classroom, it also gives them a chance to feel a bit of independence in a safe and controlled setting."

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