Friday, December 13, 2013 7:32 AM
Photo by Tauren Dyson. Kenilworth Elementary School fifth-grade students attend the opening of the school’s outdoor classroom Friday morning. The outdoor classroom is outfitted with trees, plants, a vegetable garden and birdhouses.
Published on: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
By Tauren Dyson
Kenilworth Elementary School in Bowie celebrated the first public showing of its “outdoor classroom” Friday.
The outdoor classroom is an educational and ecological experiment designed to teach children about the ecosystem. It features native trees and plants, a vegetable garden, fruit trees and birdhouses.
“Just sitting in front of a computer, you don’t learn about the nature stuff,” said Daniel Wade, Kenilworth Elementary fifth-grader. “I’m very excited because we have an entire year to spend in the outdoor classroom, and it’s going to be really fun.”
Kenilworth Elementary Principal Kevin Henderson understands the importance of getting the first outdoor classroom in Prince George’s County.
“The growth cycle of a plant, instead of reading about that in a textbook, they’ll be able to come out and actually plant seeds and do that first hand,” Henderson said. “We believe that as we bring in the Common Core curriculum, this is the way learning should take place. It should be a first-hand, authentic experience that kids can actually hold the learning in their hands and watch it grow.”
Green living is not an unfamiliar concept to Kenilworth students. They take regular trips to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel. The school also has the “Green Team,” an environmental student organization that meets weekly.
“The purpose of the Green Team is to get kids familiar with conservation and also to treat the environment respectfully,” Henderson said.
Because of the environmental strides that the school has made, community officials have taken note.
“It makes the kids understand how important the entire environment is that they’re in, not just the book and paper education,” Bowie Mayor Fredrick Robinson said. “It takes care; it takes watering; it takes effort and it brings people together. This is a lesson, very similar to the ones in the book, that reinforces things in a practical way.”
Robinson said the message of green living and conservation has spread throughout the rest of Bowie.
“If you look at the recycling efforts in the city, it’s the kids that started it,” Robinson said. “We saved $600,000 by not putting things in the landfill. …They’re the ones that kind of help lead the charge.”