Southington offers outdoor classrooms

SOUTHINGTON – Students in Southington Schools are getting to experience a different classroom environment with two outdoor classrooms.

School Superintendent John McMahan said a classroom for all grades is set up in the courtyard by the media center and a science and math classroom for high school students is set up at the southern end of the property near the woods.

McMahan said the courtyard classroom was put in last school year and already has been used. The science and math classroom was finished this summer and is like a “Greek theater room.”

The courtyard classroom includes five large tables where students can use white boards as part of the lesson. It holds up to 40 students.

He said the white boards easily fit into the tables.

“They can come out here with nice weather and do language arts or math assignments on the white board,” McMahan said.

McMahan said the room also includes the original school bell from the old Southington school building which was demolished as the new K-12 complex was completed and opened.

“The bell was from the original school. Plans are for a brass cannon from the old school property to be placed here,” McMahan said. Local Scouts will complete their Eagle Scout projects involving the cannon and a wooden display area for it.

“The Eagle Scouts are proposing a frame for the Revolutionary War cannon,” he said.

McMahan said it was easy to create the room since the new building was constructed.

Students like the opportunity to be outside.

Bethany Byler, a fourth grader, said she likes going outside to be in a different classroom for learning and always looks from the media center to see which class is in the courtyard.

“It seems like it is easier to work outside,” said fourth-grader Logan Duncan.

As for the outdoor classroom for the older students, plans are for the scouts to construct a small bridge and walkway over a small creek leading from the main school to the classroom.

McMahan said the teacher has a podium area to instruct from and students can work at seated benches.

“What makes this nice is the access to the woods for collecting specimens or samples or seeing nature. With a bridge they can get water samples,” he said.

Students can use their own personal whiteboards.

“These are different venues for students to do their work,” he said.

A cross country course will be located in the same area in the future.