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Fifth graders explore outdoor classroom

May 4, 2011

St. Marys Area High School freshman Abby Dobson, standing at left, is shown leading a group of fifth graders from Fox Township Elementary School and Bennetts Valley Elementary School in an experiment involving their sense of taste. Photo by Becky Polaski.

Fifth graders from the St. Marys Area School District recently visited the St. Marys Area Middle School to take part in an orientation program to prepare them for their transition to the middle school in the fall. Part of that orientation program included a trip to the school's outdoor classroom.
Pam Patterson, the Biology 2 teacher at the St. Marys Area High School, supervised the program at the outdoor classroom and was assisted by several ninth graders from the high school.
The fifth graders were divided into three groups and the high school students led them in a series of activities, such as a tour, scavenger hunt, and various experiments.
"Last year was the first time we did this," Patterson said of the group activities.
Fifth graders from Fox Township Elementary and Bennetts Valley Elementary, who visited the outdoor classroom last Friday, participated in an experiment related to their sense of taste.
Patterson noted that she allows the ninth graders to pick their own experiments.
"[Leading the students in various experiments is] something my [students] came up with last year and we decided it worked out well. We just did a couple random groups last year, but this year we decided to incorporate all the fifth graders," Patterson said.
She added that the fifth graders' visits to the outdoor classroom also tied in well with the recent celebration of Earth Day.
Patterson noted that Mr. Miller, another biology teacher at the high school, also took some students on a trip to Parker Dam the week before Easter to participate in a program to celebrate Earth Day.

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