Students Reach “New Heights” in Environmental Connections Magnet Theme
Children discover that the natural world is an open-ended laboratory for learning in the Environmental Connections theme at Lincoln Heights Magnet Elementary in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
This theme empowers students to collaborate, communicate, create, think critically, make hypotheses, and solve problems – all while experiencing the outdoors and becoming environmentally literate citizens.
Here are some of the ways Lincoln Heights views learning differently, plus tips on creating environmental connections for your student at home.
Making deliberate environmental connections
Nature-based learning is delivered across all content areas through the lens of environmental and life sciences at Lincoln Heights.
For example, third-grade students recently studied ocean pollution and practiced civic responsibility by writing to local restaurants to request they consider banning the use of plastic straws. As a result, four Fuquay-Varina restaurants committed to moving to a “straws by request only” policy!
Students also investigate and connect with life outside the classroom in one of several Outdoor Learning Laboratories on the school’s campus. These labs support authentic, hands-on opportunities that allow students to investigate the natural world in the following ways:
- Kindergarteners and first-graders use magnifying glasses in the outdoor classroom to search for Letterland characters who might be hiding in their favorite flowers and solve math problems using acorns, twigs, and leaves.
- Second- and third-graders observe weather on the Lincoln Heights’ rooftop garden and then create bar graphs of different weather patterns and cloud types.
- Fourth-graders study magnetic properties on the playground equipment, and fifth-graders use the garden beds to determine radius, diameter, area, and perimeter.
Extending learning through Environmental Expedition Electives
Each quarter, students choose an Expedition Elective to explore an area of interest in the Environmental Connections magnet theme.
Last quarter, the students who chose the Botanist Designers Expedition harvested produce they grew and donated it to the Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry.
There are numerous Expedition Electives to choose from each quarter, and Lincoln Heights’ students love sharing what they’ve learned in electives as varied as the ones below:
- Treasures from the Earth
- My Wonderful Body Machine
- Give Bees a Chance
- Weather Watchers
Connecting families to the Lincoln Heights Community
Lincoln Heights helps the whole family enjoy and learn about the environment during Fall and Spring Exhibition Nights.
During these events, families may build a beehive replica with recycled materials or identify various rocks and minerals using the tools that geologists use. At the most recent “October Outdoors” event, families were able to participate in tree identification, bug sweeping, Nature Bingo, and more!
How can you and your child make environmental connections at home?
Plant the seed. Develop a love of nature in your child by taking daily nature inquiry walks. Ask each other questions about all the interesting plants and animals you see and hear outside. Count the leaves on your sidewalk or run like your favorite animal.
Grow environmental stewards. Talk to your child about recycling and make a chart together about what materials can be recycled and how to sort them. Together you and your child can organize a neighborhood clean up day where other families join in the effort to reduce trash where you live!
Cultivate curiosity. In this digital age, it’s important to build time outside into our day. Create a nature scavenger hunt for your child where finding sticks and acorns is a fun game. Also, start a small garden in your yard or pick apples at a nearby orchard.
Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School is located at 307 Bridge Street in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., 27526. Click here to schedule a tour, or call 919-557-2587.