Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Ivy Academy students are exchanging their pencils for paddles and their desks for life jackets.
With the outdoor-oriented school’s new floating classroom, students have everything they need to explore the Tennessee River.
Docked at Harbor Lights Marina in Soddy-Daisy, the platoon boat/classroom is a way for environmental science students to experience Chickamauga Lake firsthand.
“The floating classroom will bring a lot more meaning to the students’ understanding [of] how the physical and chemical properties of the creek affect the life there,” said Stephanie Kiefer, environmental science teacher at Ivy. “If we are not in the environment and observing it, then we can’t really tell if it’s changing.”
Environmental science students have already been studying the creek that runs behind the school, said Kiefer, but a nearby mine affects the creek’s biodiversity as well as its pH levels. The Tennessee River has a lot more life to study, she said.
The boat being used for the classroom was donated to the school last spring, after having sat on land for years. Students and teachers spent the summer fixing it up, making it fit for the water again. Life jackets and water-quality testing equipment were also donated for the students to use, said Ivy Academy Executive Director Angie Markum.
“They get to actually have experiential learning,” Markum said. “Once you experience something like that, you never forget it. It makes every day a field trip. That’s what Ivy Academy is like every day.”
Even those who aren’t taking environmental science classes are able to benefit from the boat. Tenth-grade English students will make use of the floating classroom for their research papers on water quality, Markum said.
“That’s how it infiltrates other areas, by taking it to the different classes,” said Holly Slater, leadership teacher at Ivy Academy.
The leadership students planned and orchestrated a ribbon cutting event at the harbor in early September, along with the school’s chorus, which performed at the event. They also gave floating tours to guests.
“This generation tends not to go out as much, so hopefully we’ll get some stewards of the environment,” said Kiefer.
For more information visit ivyacademychattanooga.com.