Millbrook Magnet Elementary Grows Environmental Stewards

MECME students finding and studying acorns as a way to learn about plant life cycles.

Nature is an open-ended laboratory that beckons children to collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically.

Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary (MECME) in Raleigh offers a learning experience where teachers bring students outside several times a week to generate children’s innate interest in nature and develop these learning skills.

Additionally, because the school community has demonstrated ways that their campus provides food and water availability, cover, places to raise young, and other sustainable environmental practices, they have been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat.

Even more impressively, MECME was just awarded the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School award, along with her sister school in southern Wake, Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary.

If it’s not obvious: MECME’s mission is to develop environmentally-minded citizens who will change the world. This mission is reflected in every aspect of receiving an education there.

To date, MECME has installed rain, pollinator, and edible gardens as part of their outdoor learning lab.

Students use these spaces to learn about irrigation, food cultivation, stormwater runoff, and other horticulture, sustainability, and ecology topics.

They also use camera traps to learn the habits of their nocturnal friends and binoculars to observe the insects and birds who share the MECME habitat.

With onsite gardens, off-site field lessons, and carpool technology that reduces carbon emissions, Millbrook Magnet Elementary hopes to develop environmentally-minded citizens who will change the world.

A Food Corp volunteer works at the school two full days per week, co-teaching garden curriculum, maintaining garden space with student help, and monitoring the cafeteria composting program.

Too, the student Green Bees and faculty Eco-Action Team members are working to reduce the school’s carbon footprint through energy conservation.

Along with reducing their white paper waste by 31 pounds per month, MECME uses online technology to queue up several students at a time for carpool dismissal, in order to reduce time in the carpool lane and lower carbon emissions.

MECME teachers and Environmental Integration Specialists host on-site mini-treks and off-site field lessons to empower students to investigate how classroom topics connect to the outside world.

A lesson on the water cycle comes to life when students on a mini-trek watch a rainstorm under a canopied roof to watch how rain is diverted down the MECME rock garden to prevent erosion.

Students also participate in approximately six field lessons per year.

During field lessons, students might analyze pond water in a nearby park or visit the local planetarium to learn about the stars.

“Field lessons effectively motivate students and engage them in active learning,” Shelly Lewis, a third-grade teacher at Millbrook, says.

“I will never forget the student who gasped with joy the first time she held a worm in her hands and learned that worms have no eyes to see or lungs to breathe. She immediately had so many more questions!”

The Second Chance Magnet Application period began May 1, 2020.

Do you want this kind of robust and engaging learning for your child? Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary has a limited number of magnet seats still available for priority applicants.

If you wish to learn if you qualify to apply to MECME, or one of the several other vibrant magnet schools in Wake County, click here.

See Things Differently at WCPSS Magnet Schools.

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