The outdoor classrooms at Roland Park Country School offer students authentic, hands-on learning opportunities that activate the senses and provide a context for the cognitive skills they are developing in the classroom. By posing questions and learning about the world around them, students are introduced to the food system and waste streams and to concepts of environmental sustainability and social justice.
Experiences in the outdoor classrooms around the campus provide opportunities for interdisciplinary lessons that empower students to make healthy choices in their daily lives and to understand how humans interact with their environment. The intent is to enable students to become stewards of and leaders in their communities.
RPCS has two vegetative roofs, located on the Athletic Complex. While inaccessible to students, they are visible to students from the Athletic Complex track and from the Centennial Courtyard and they serve as important teaching tools and demonstration sites for energy conservation. Under one of the vegetative roofs, there is a bottle brick bench made by Roland Park Country School students and faculty out of plastic waste and plastic bottles.
In addition, RPCS maintains the Backwoods, five acres of old growth forest under forest conservation, as an outdoor classroom. Students of all ages explore, discover and investigate this area, which includes a high oak canopy, native Maryland trees and perennial plants, wildlife, a spring-fed stream, a gazebo, a bridge, and a dam and spring house built in the 1850s.
The Backwoods is used as an outdoor classroom for many purposes including:
- Multi-sensory nature walks
- Stream water quality testing
- Nature poetry writing
- Watershed survey
- Sketching in open air
- Biota studies of different areas in the woods and the stream
- Soil composition and habitat studies
- Developing a sense of place within nature
- Stewardship activities, such as invasive removal and tree planting
Due to recent storm water management issues, the Backwoods has been less accessible. RPCS recently received a grant from Baltimore Gas and Electric to repair part of a stone trail that was damaged by extensive rain. As this is resolved, we anticipate increased use of the Backwoods.
“In a classroom, you're learning about it, but when you're outside, you're having fun with it.” RPCS Student