Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mosaic Sundial Completed

Completing the sundial took a lot longer than expected. It was finally all in place, grouted and sealed, on July 31, 2011. Herre is Robyn sealing the grout. Yay!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Parent Work Day May 15

Sunday May 15 is our designated Parent Work Day for the Outdoor Classroom and the Sundial Mosaic.
Stop by anytime between 9am and 3pm to help create a garden, put flagstone in the kids' picnic table area, and put tiles on the mosaic sundial. This is a joint BCSIS-High Peaks event, so show up and support your school and get to know parents from the other side of the hallway!

We especially need stong people to move flagstone, so this is a great way for all those buff parents to help out. Kids are welcome to join us.
Please wear work clothes, gloves, a hat, sunscreen. Bring tools (shovel, trowel, crowbar, wheelbarrow) if you can.
Food and beverages will be available.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fibonacci Series Rocks

Have you seen the big rock cluster on the grass of the Outdoor Classroom? They are clustered in a certain pattern...1,1,2,3,5 . This is the pattern of a Fibonacci Series. The series starts over by the Garden-to-Table Garden, and continues in an arch. Here's a teaching tool that is both subtle and very tactile/kinetic.

Well, the rocks are also great for sitting and climbing on. Or having tea like the Flintstones.

Flags on Poles

The colorful flags hung on the poles of the Useful Poles of the Outdoor Classroom are not intended to be a permanent installation. However, they give a hint of the uses which may be found for the poles. The poles may be used to conduct wind experiments; they may be used to display art or knitting samples. Who knows what our kids will come up with?
These flags were made by Robyn Churchill Rathweg, but future different flags may be created by a class. The Outdoor Classroom planners thought the flags were appropriate this spring, as they interact in a playful way with our sometimes odious Colorado Spring wind. These flags are hand printed with whimsical designs and inspirational sayings such as "Tis a gift to be Free" and "Peace" and "Beet Happy." Enjoy the dance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cafeteria Garden to be Renewed

One space that the schoolkids see every day needs a little TLC (tender Loving Care) The garden in front of the cafeteria, just to the left of the main entrance, has seen many incarnations over the years. It has been a perennial garden, a xeric garden, a garden full of sunflowers, mint and bindweed, and now a place with grass and rocks. The bond project which enhanced the school building was not always kind to the gardens, and this particular one lost roses, native shrubs, hardy perennials and ornamental grasses. BCSIS teacher Meaghan is inspired to recreate this garden and is gathering a group of parents and helpers to improve the site.

The new garden will look like a dry creek bed, with native shrubs, perennials and grasses. The garden will be a teaching spot, as students can study plants, watch the seasonal changes, and connect it to their studies of Colorado. Many of the plants of this garden are ones that have been used by Native Americans as herbs, medecines, food, and even soap...so children studying Native Americans may find it useful. All of us will find it delightful.

Isn't that NEAT!?!

Meghan would love to have helpers create this garden. You can help by buying snacks at the 2nd grade bakesale after school on Friday May 6.

If you would like to donate soil, river rocks, pea gravel, sturdy landscaping cloth, or native shrubs, please talk with Meaghan or Jane Blair.

We will probably work on the garden on the Parent Work Day (TBA).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Aurora 7 Renewable Energy Outdoor Classroom

by Beth Stade...
Some years ago, I attended a meeting of prominent local scientists to review the new Colorado Education Science Standards. As the committee reviewed a mountain of documents, a physicist from the University of Colorado was concerned that something important had been left out.

“What is it?” asked the state education directors, eager to add more requirements for moon phases or electrical currents.

“Where is the joy?” he replied.

“We don’t have a category for that,” answered the director, without a trace of irony.

Science is not a list of facts and procedures to be learned, it is the joyful curiosity of answering to the question “why?” and using our senses to understand the world around us.

The Renewable Energy Outdoor Classroom we are creating at Aurora 7, the shared campus of High Peaks Elementary and Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies, is an outdoor laboratory to explore science, nature, and renewable energy. At its heart will be a giant sundial of handmade tiles from all 600 students at the school. Among the rocks and seating boulders will be little exhibits that invite passersby to touch and explore. One of the most unique aspects of this outdoor classroom is that is purposefully unfinished. We won’t have wind power display, but we will have poles with connections for students to make models windmills every year. We won’t have a water feature, but we will have a solar powered water pump to make one. One of the best aspects of our solar panels is that they are NOT connected to the grid – they only work when the sun shines! The outdoor classroom is a place for children to explore while their big sister is playing soccer in the adjacent park, and a well-equipped space for teachers to run complex experiments that can’t be done indoors. It is designed to grow and change with school, not be a fixed monument.

The parents and teachers at the school began looking for creative ways to explore solar energy and outdoor science education several years ago. Parents at the school raised money through grants from GOCO Colorado (lottery funds), Lowes, Home Depot, and with donations from Resource, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and many volunteers. By supporting the Outdoor Classroom we will be able to incorporate even more resources into this dynamic space. We’d really love to add a kinetic wind sculpture for example, and provide additional materials for teachers.

Thank you for your support of this unique space, and we hope you will come check it out this summer!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trees Galore

Renaud de Rosiers is a parent at BCSIS with a kindergarten student. He looked around the Aurora 7 schoolyard and saw few trees, and no mature trees at all. (Some big cottonwoods on the ground were lost a few years ago due to disease, and the bond project renovation of the building and playgrounds last year took out all but the smallest, youngest trees.) Renaud decided that he would work to have some trees on the A7 ground that were at least taller than him! He connected with Greg Jordan of "Tree Taxi of Longment," who has large trees that were available at a reasonable rate. Thanks to the hard work of this BCSIS parent, we have many large new trees to enjoy on the Aurora 7 grounds. Thanks, Renaud!

Here's High Peaks Principal's Assistant Michele, pretending she's a tree. Won't your arms get tired, Michele?

and now, that same spot, with a new tree. Thanks for standing in, Michele.

The newly planted trees include Golden Rain, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Ash, Canada Red Chokecherry, and Bur Oak. These are all well adapted to the Colorado climate and should provide beauty and shade for years to come.