Cultivating an awareness of and a respect for nature is integrated throughout our curriculum. We are dedicated to teaching children about ways in which they can each contribute to creating a more eco-friendly environment via means such as renewable energy, recycling, composting and other subtle lifestyle changes that collectively impact our environment.
Outdoor Education is a formal presence in our curriculum where students spend time fully experiencing nature with all five senses. They learn about plants, animals, watersheds, geography, natural history, and how ecosystems work. Through visiting the same natural area (e.g. woods, dunes, prairies) multiple times throughout the year, students observe changes over time and season. They also learn about native (and invasive) animal habitats and the importance of maintaining natural areas.
Connections with these lessons are seen throughout the school. Active worm bins compost lunch scraps. Children then count, sort, and harvest rich compost throughout the year. The compost enriches an urban garden at the school planted by the children. First graders oversee a recycling project to sort, weigh, and track the school’s reusable waste papers and containers. Older students coordinate electronics recycling, which prompts questions about the safety, scope of recycling as well as the feasibility of living sustainability. In this context, packing a healthy lunch in a reusable container isn’t only good for you, it’s also fun and feels right.
As a participant in the Illinois Solar Schools Program, the school boasts a 1kw solar panel demonstration project that has a real-time internet feed to track energy collected in correlation to the weather. This program is funded through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and Commonwealth Edison.