Environmental Learning

Environmental education at RPCS teaches children and adults how to examine and explore the natural world around them and how to make intelligent, informed decisions.

Students learn about the environment in classrooms, on the playground, in the Backwoods, on outdoor education trips, and in the community at nature centers, museums, parks, and zoos. Learning about the environment, including how it works and how to keep it healthy, involves many subjects, including science, social studies, math and language arts.

AT RPCS, We Want Students to Know:

  • That the choices they make every day affect the environment.
  • That their choices can help or harm the environment.
  • That their actions do make a difference, and they can improve the quality of life both for themselves and for future generations.

Environmental Education

  • Preschool students in the 2s, 3s and 4s classes play daily in a Nature Playspace, where they hunt for worms, crickets and grubs, watch a variety of caterpillars in our butterfly garden (which they plant and tend), and feed and observe birds, squirrels and even the occasional hawk. They also take time to relax in explore a sensory garden.  
  • On “Forest Fridays,”  the preschool students love exploring the Backwoods and always find something new, including red bellied salamanders, deer rubbings, patent leather beetles, and worms.
  • In the Little Reds classroom, natural materials for art and building projects are used whenever possible.
  • Our students, including the preschoolers, focus on growing vegetables and herbs for their school community. By planting seeds in early spring, caring for their gardens, harvesting, preparing, and eating the produce, students learn about the life cycle of plants and people and the interconnection between them. At the end of each school year, students leave having planted a summer garden, and they return in the fall to harvest it.
  • Our Monarch Waystation provides nectar plants and milkweed for Monarchs on their long migration. Students rear, tag and release Monarchs into the garden.
  • In the Three Sisters Garden, students grow corn, beans and squash the way Native Americans grew them 400 years ago. Third grade students celebrate the fall harvest.
  • Fourth graders compost garden waste to create healthy soil for our campus gardens and learn about recycling, organic matter, aerobic decomposition, microorganisms, vermiculture, and soil ecosystems.
  • In 5th grade, students build an understanding of land stewardship practices that have an impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Students assess annual gardens and perennial landscapes on campus using the Bay Wise Assessment tool. Students learn about planting wisely, feeding the soil and controlling storm water runoff.
  • In 6th grade, students learn about land stewardship through building and caring for our campus demonstration rain gardens. They continue to learn about the Chesapeake Bay through studying the water system.
  • 8th grade students plant trees during their outdoor learning expedition in West Virginia.
  • In 9th grade biology classes, students study soil microbes in a soil ecology research project called “The Little Things that Run the World.”
  • In Sustainable Design and Engineering, 12th grade students race cars that they design and build in class.
  • The Upper School students remove invasive plants and clean up trash in the Backwoods.