Outdoor Learning

In a classroom, you're learning about it, but when you're outside, you're having fun with it. -Student
Students of all ages at RPCS explore, discover and investigate the five-acre urban woodland called “The Backwoods”. This unique remnant of an old growth forest contains a high oak canopy, a mixed middle story of native Maryland trees and both invasive and native perennial plants in the understory.
Wildlife including deer, salamanders, frogs, squirrels, and chipmunks make their home in this natural habitat which includes a spring fed stream that runs throughout the year.  A dam and spring house, dating from the 1850’s, add historical interest.  In 2001, The Backwoods was put into a Forest Conservation Easement in order to preserve this urban treasure. In 2007 a Gazebo was constructed to provide a place to sit, and a bridge was installed across the stream in 2008 to protect the natural habitat.

The Backwoods is used as an outdoor classroom for many purposes including:

  • Spring “music walks”
  • Early morning bird walks
  • Multi-sensory nature walks
  • Stream water quality testing
  • Nature poetry writing 
  • Watershed survey
  • Sketching in plein air
  • Biota studies of different areas in the woods and the stream
  • Soil composition and habitat studies
  • Developing a sense of place
  • Stewardship activities – invasive removal and tree planting