DeKalb Middle School Science students and others now have an opportunity to take their studies outdoors.
A new pavilion, complete with six picnic tables, and access to running water and electricity, has been completed which will serve as an "outdoor classroom" for occasional use by DMS science classes and others
"The outdoor classroom was built in order to facilitate hands-on science projects which will better meet the needs of our students as we forge ahead with the S.T.E.M.-type curriculum in mind. Of course, S.T.EM. is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," said DMS Assistant Principal Amanda Dakas.
Members of the student council began collecting aluminum cans about a year and half ago to raise money for the project. " We didn't start the project until we knew we had the funds to complete it. We had to do all the fundraising. We wrote grants and we had fund raising dances after school at night and things like that. All the money raised has been spent on the outdoor classroom and it was finished just last week during spring break," said Suzette Barnes, DMS seventh grade science teacher.
While the pavilion is mainly for science classes, Dakas said other teachers can make use of it as well. "Building this facility offers not only our science teachers an opportunity for hands-on learning , but ALL teachers will be able to use the facility as well for any student-based hands-on activity that ties the math, engineering, and sciences together. So we are really excited about this and so are the students," said Dakas.
"It's mostly for science. If science teachers are doing experiments that could get messy, they can do it in the outdoor classroom. But we're not limiting it to science. Any teacher in the building has the opportunity to hold a class out there at any time. There are six picnic tables which will accommodate a full classroom of 30 students," said Barnes.
Although the pavilion is completed, the fundraising continues to add a sidewalk from the school to the pavilion. "We will continue to raise funds. My plan for the next phase is to be able to build a sidewalk from the building to the outdoor classroom. We will continue to raise funds and take donations to accomplish that portion of the project. We also still have the recycle bin for aluminum cans in front of the school near the highway. That money goes to the outdoor classroom as well. We have been successful with that effort. Since we started we have emptied it (recycle bin) three different times and that money goes straight to the outdoor classroom," said Barnes.
"I want to thank the community and especially the student council members who have worked to raise the money for this. Without the fundraising and these grants this would not have been possible but it is something that will be used for many years to come," Barnes said.
"We are so proud of our student council for playing a vital role in making this come to fruition," Dakas concluded.