Chip teaches second and third grade students at a local elementary school. For the last few years, he has been getting them outside for science class using a program he learned about through the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (http://brswcd.org/Home.html), called the Buddy Buckets.
The student bucket set is made by placing two small buckets together, leaving one bucket empty and one bucket filled with science tools, such as a magnifying glass, a net, a observation tube, a square foot of cut plastic sheeting for kneeling, a measuring tape and an umbrella. These items were purchased using a Creative Classroom Grant received in 2009. The buckets were donated by local grocery stores. These buckets were icing buckets in their first life. Ask your local bakery to reserve these for you.
The student learns to use each tool in the classroom and “in the field.” The umbrella is useful, even on a sunny day, as opening it creates a sound barrier so that the instructor doesn’t have to yell for the class to hear the instructor. Lastly, each bucket has a Leave No Trace tag attached to help the students to remember the seven principles of LNT. Please visit LNT at http://www.lnt.org to learn more.
Students can also use their buckets for a seat in the school’s outdoor classroom. Once there, the students can journal and complete classroom. He even has the students take tests outside, when possible.
Once the students return to the classroom, they complete their journals and compare their outside learning to what they have learned inside. Keeping a year-long journal helps them to “set their learning in concrete,” as Mr. Donahue puts it.
For using Bucket Buddies in his classroom, Chip was honored to receive an award as 2008 Conservation Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia. You can read more about this at:
Chip’s school applied for a Leave No Trace grant in 2010 and was able to use that to further instruct his students on the importance of LNT. For those efforts, Chip was chosen as Leave No Trace Youth Educator of the Year for 2011. He is very honored by this recognition.
Feel free to e-mail Chip, should you have any questions at KIVAinfo@gmail.com.