ENGAGING STUDENTS…McLoughlin students see nature from new angle

Most of Celia Antonini’s students had never experienced the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge until a Foundation for VPS Engagement Grant funded an 8th grade trip to Multnomah Falls.

The students were not there just for recreation, or to study natural science, they would be learning linear functions. As part of their math curriculum, the students had been working on the concepts of slope, initial value and how it relates to the world. Antonini applied for the grant hoping that the trip would help the students develop a “concrete understanding of how graphs, tables, equations and scenarios are played out in life.”

According to Antonini, the students’ experiences extended beyond the math lessons,
“This provided all students with a glimpse into our environment, an actual hiking experience and a sense of how our natural world renews itself after the Eagle Creek Fire.” She added that students also experienced the “comradery of helping each other and encouraging each other on the hike and the mathematical calculations, graphing and analysis done once we returned with our data.”

Back at McLoughlin, when asked to reflect on their experience, several students reported feeling a sense of accomplishment. Lyanna said “It was a great bonding experience to help our class become closer.” Athena wrote, “I learned that I like hiking and I’d want to do it again.”

Without funding through the Foundation for VPS or other sources, many schools struggle with the cost of transportation for field trips. Antonini noted that travelling through a school trip may be a student’s only opportunity to visit places like the Gorge, “Many of our students do not have the means to travel into the Gorge or other natural areas of our region.”