Kids learn outside

a classroom where the walls are made of bark and the ceiling a pale blue sky, students from Fremont Elementary School learned about the ways of nature on Wednesday.

"The stuff we teach here is best learned outdoors," said program coordinator Susan Jacox. "If you're going to learn about a water cycle or astronomy, you can't do that in a classroom."

Sixty-six students from Fremont Elementary and Katherine Dunn Elementary in Sparks are camping at Clear Creek Campground this week as part of the Great Basin Outdoor School.

During the week students will use skills in science, reading and math to complete a variety of activities including studying rock formations and drought conditions.

"You get to learn new things and the food is really good," said Katie Coalter, 11, a fifth-grader at Fremont Elementary School.

Kristin Anderson, 11, said her favorite part of the camp so far was the Find Your Tree game. Students were paired, and one led the other blindfolded through the woods to a certain tree.

"I learned that you have to use all your senses like feeling and smelling," Kristin said. "It's fun."

Amber Barnes, a naturalist at the camp, led the activity.

"It teaches them there's more than one way to learn," Barnes said. "They also learn to trust their classmates and that sometimes learning isn't an individual thing."

Twenty-nine students from Fremont Elementary School are participating in this week's program, the first Carson City school to participate since the outdoor school began in 1995.

"I like the cabins," said Hunter Tyzbir, 10. "I like being outdoors and I like exploring."

Audy Losche came as a parent volunteer with her son Chase.

"We love the outdoors and we thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about it," she said. "It's been fantastic. It's been a lot of fun and educational."

Fremont Elementary is off track this week, but other schools include the Great Basin Outdoor School in their regular curriculum. Nanette Oleson, a counselor at Fremont, accompanied the students.

The outdoor school will continue to run week-long programs for the next four weeks.


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