Fourth year of taking students ‘Into the Wild’
- Published: October 18, 2019
All 65 members of the seventh-grade class at McKinney Middle School participated last month in the three-day, 53-mile, camping-biking experience known as Into the Wild.
Four members of the class, representing their peers and accompanied by two of the trip’s faculty leaders, attended the Yellow Springs school board meeting Thursday, Oct. 10, to share some of their reflections on the excursion.
In its fourth year as a multi-disciplinary unit that also serves to bond the students as they begin their seventh-grade year, Into the Wild provides “spaces that allow our students to explore and be curious… and be immersed in their own learning,” health and physical education teacher Kate Lohmeyer told the board.
Other components of the trip included a three-to-six-mile canoe trip, a study of the local watershed and a math unit.
Miles Gilchrist said the trip offered a chance to grow and expand his school and project-based learning, or PBL, participation.
“In my PBL experiences so far, what felt different about this is … we had more decision [-making opportunities] … and we went further away,” Miles said.
For Grayson Horn, the hands-on nature of the trip was especially satisfying.
“I was definitely more engaged and interested than if I was sitting in a classroom,” Grayson said. “I got the real-life experience … of testing the water quality of local water sources.”
Tiger Collins spoke on personal lessons she learned, summing them up by recognizing the importance of “not giving up.”
She said that when she found herself growing annoyed with others, she encouraged herself “to just go with the flow.” And if someone else didn’t follow through with a task, making it difficult for her, she pressed herself to keep going regardless.
Cali Jones talked about the community feeling that developed during the trip.
“You go outside and you hang out with 65-plus seventh graders,” she said. “My friend group is a circle of 10 girls, and I’m out there with 55 more of them than I would normally hang out with. … You just feel like you have a sense of a school family when you hang out with them and you bike for 53 miles and camp out.”
Middle school science teacher Rebecca Eastman said that the students’ reflections underscored the sense that “this project for us is so much more than the three-day trip.”
Students learn about the water cycle and pollution, they engage in physical activities, they experience resilience and they learn to work together, the teachers said.