Lansdowne receives grant for outdoor education

Lansdowne Elementary School has been working for more than a year to integrate outdoor education into its everyday curriculum. Now, thanks to a new grant, the school can take that mission even further.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Lowes Toolbox for Education recently awarded the $50,000 Champion Grant to the school to install a WeatherBug station on the roof and add a laptop and iPad cart for teachers to utilize. Data from the WeatherBug station will be accessible from any computer, at the school or from personal computers, and can be used by teachers and students from all grade levels and tied into many different subjects.

“We applied for a WeatherBug station, which will go on the roof of the school, and students will be able to access live video footage and live weather data from any computer,” Lansdowne Principal Brian Bambauer said.
Students already do a lot of work outside with the school’s garden and outdoors classroom, and this new addition will help tie in math and science for all grades.

The first project the school took on to get more students outdoors was the garden, where parents and students grow, water and harvest plants, and all surplus produce is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, making the project about more than education by including community service. The school now also has an outdoor classroom for teachers to utilize and hold lessons.

Once the WeatherBug station is installed, students will be able to access real-time weather information, historic weather data and retrieve data and videos from stations all over the world, like the WeatherBug station in Alaska.

“Weather and interpretation of data and that kind of thing is just a perfect topic,” Bambauer said. “You can go back and compare this year and last year’s data or compare it to any WeatherBug station in the world.”

The grant also will fund the addition of a cart with 24 laptops and a cart with 25 iPads that can be used by teachers and classrooms throughout the school. Students will use the technology to work on homework or projects and can participate in in-class activities.

Although this is the largest grant Lansdowne has received for the use of integrating outdoor education into the curriculum, the school has received two other grants to assist in its efforts. The Whole Kids Foundation awarded a $2,000 grant for the garden in 2012, and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education awarded $5,000 for the outdoor classroom in 2013.

Bambauer hopes the support from the community will continue to help grow the programs at Lansdowne and the unique projects the school is pursuing.

“We are an international baccalaureate school, and inquiry is a big focus in a lot that we do. It’s a teaching strategy that we try to incorporate as much as we can,” he said. “We want to make sure that all of the students here benefit from this technology and the WeatherBug technology.”

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