Article Courtesy of Jeanine Nielson, STREAM Coordinator K-12
The Summer Science Academy had yet another successful week at Antlers, in Raquette Lake, NY in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. For five years now, students have been reaping the rewards of this unique outdoor learning experience. We started our journey at the Adirondack Experience, the Museum in Blue Mountain Lake where students learned out the original settlers and history of the Adirondacks. Our first full day was spent team building on the low ropes course, where we bonded as a group and students challenged themselves with balance, coordination, and team work. Most of our learning takes place in nature, although students know some classroom time is still needed to utilize the microscopes to view the daphnia heart beating under various conditions, as well as to perform dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and phosphate tests on the lake water. Students kept science journals each day where they drew various species that we came across while in nature and used guidebooks to research what they found.
Students learned how to build a fire outdoors, learned how to fish, and make use of the natural resources that surrounded them. All students received instruction on kayak and canoe structure safety, strokes, and how to perform a T-Rescue. For some canoeing was one of the more difficult activities they learned.
We climbed three mountains throughout the course of the week, each presenting itself with its own unique challenges, Bear, Coney, and Owls Head. Students learned how to identify various species of plants native to the area, as well as a geology lesson at the top on how the Adirondacks were formed. We visited the Wild Center and the Garnet Mine during the week as well.
Here’s what some students said about their experience:
“ Kayaking and canoeing were amazing and fun to learn about, especially when it came to rescuing others. The Adirondacks were a way for me to break out of my shell and realize what I am capable of and who I am as a person.”
“ One thing that challenged me the most was our hiking experiences; going up and reaching the top, taught me how much hard work and persistence pays off in the end; even if it costs you time and energy—it’s rewarding to know that you’ve accomplished a hard feat/task. That’s the one component of it all that has helped me grow as a person the most, and that I’ve also enjoyed the most including kayaking.”
“ I feel like the high and low rope activities made me come out of my comfort zone. This whole trip felt achieving and fulfilling. I am very happy. I am thankful for all the staff that run the academy and I hope to see it grow over the years.”
“ I believe my biggest challenge was opening up to a group of people but then seeing myself grow and come out of my shell and meeting and talking to new people and becoming friends with them. The mining experience was unique.”
“ I was able to spend time with friends while learning about the environment surrounding me in life. I’m beginning to realize that there is a whole world for me to explore and that all I have to do is just go through nature and look. By taking hikes we were able to explore organisms in their natural habitat and then research them to further our knowledge. Overall, the Summer Science Academy program is an amazing program that allows for school in a different environment and incorporates it seamlessly.”
“I was able to learn more about some of the animals and the surrounding Adirondacks, this was partially due to the live events that we were able to attend and the other people we spoke to. I want to thank you guys for the amazing experience I had this year and last year, and hopefully I can come back next year.”
“The most challenging was the hiking since I wasn’t used to it. I was struggling a bit, especially with the steeper parts. However, after completing the hikes, I felt accomplished and was proud of myself. I also like kayaking and canoeing. It was also my first time doing those things. I want to thank all the staff for being so generous and supportive.”
If you want to explore learning in the outdoors, then reach out to Ms. Nielsen or stop by room 112. We will have a meeting on Monday, Oct. 16 afterschool for any student wanting to participate in our Winter Academy that will take place Jan 26-30.