A small but energetic school group, The Waldorf School from Princeton NJ, had a blast learning about the natural world at the New Jersey School of Conservation. The students were very enthusiastic about the different lessons and classes that they were scheduled to take. The classes were perfectly suited for their small group sizes and the children were able to experience a variety of hands-on activities, thereby gaining some valuable knowledge.
On Monday, they were scheduled for the Climbing Wall where many students were able to conquer their fear of heights while climbing the wall. Later that day was the Water Ecology class, where they explored one of the streams on campus and searched for aquatic macro-invertebrates. The following day was a busy one with an Orienteering and Papermaking experience in the morning and Boating and Metalsmithing in the afternoon.
During Orienteering the students learned how to use a compass and then tested their new skills on an orienteering course that took them on an adventure through the forest. In the Papermaking class the students learned how paper is made from raw fibers. They learned the difference between a monoculture forest and a mixed forest, and collected natural materials to be used in the papermaking process. During the class, each student produced their very own piece of homemade recycled paper.
Metalsmithing is a fun activity that introduces students to natural resource use during the colonial period. The students first learned about the difficulty of shaping metal and the important role the blacksmith played during colonial times. Everyone experienced what it was like to be a blacksmith with a hands-on activity. The small blacksmithing project along with a tinsmithing project provided each student with a product that was then sent home with them.
During the afternoon boating lesson, the students were treated to a special treat on the lake when a bald eagle came and perched atop a branch overlooking Lake Wapalanne! It was a unique and exciting experience for the children. Bald eagles, our national bird, are still on the federal endangered species list. That night the students gathered around a small campfire and were able to gaze upon the stars on a cloudless night. Waldorf may be one of the smaller school groups we serve, but they certainly left a wonderful impression on all of the educators at the School of Conservation and we look forward to their next visit.