Whether exploring the wonders of the natural world or discovering their place in a broader global context, Wellington students are advantaged with a variety of experiences beyond the classroom that will forever enrich their lives.
Research has shown that students who participate in an outdoor education program as part of their school day have significantly more intrinsic motivation to learn. Additionally, studies have shown that students who learn outdoors develop: a greater sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving, empathy toward others, motor skills, self-discipline, and initiative.
For Becky Fuller P ‘08 ‘11 ‘16, lower school physical education teacher, it has been a career-long mission to get children outside more. Most recently, with the support of a Wellington Student Engagement Grant, Fuller recognized a need for 4th graders to have a greater mastery of riding their bikes to enhance their many visits to Columbus Metro Parks, so she designed a curriculum that would teach lower schoolers how to ride safely with their friends in an outdoor setting. She saw the countless benefits of cycling, integrating science (identifying flora and fauna of the local area), mathematics (calculating distance and speed), geography (mapping), social studies (studying the historical significance of cycling in different societies, language arts (reading and writing about cycling), and environmental science (reduction of emissions by cycling). There is also a significant well-being component as the physical activity causes a boost in serotonin and dopamine.
“Outdoor experiences help students increase their understanding of their natural and human communities,” Fuller explains. “Through connection to place, students develop stronger environmental attitudes and civic behaviors. Learning outdoors is active and increases students’ physical, mental, and social health.” Explore more cycling photos on Vidigami.
This week, 5th graders visited Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware for a wide range of hands-on earth and life science topics, including weather, ecology, energy resources, and arthropods. They will return to the center throughout the oncoming seasons to see how the ecosystem changes and how different organisms adapt. In September, the 6th grade science curriculum was complemented with an extensive study of the watershed at Cuyahoga Valley National Park during a three-day camping trip. Explore more photos from Stratford Ecological Center on Vidigami.
According to researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching, travel experiences are “inherently interdisciplinary.” When students are afforded opportunities to engage with the world outside of school, they develop important skills in building collaborative relationships and putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom. Subjects such as American History and Holocaust literature in 7th grade were supplemented by visiting our nation’s capital this week, standing among the monuments and touring the museums that stir thoughtful reflection and contemplation of the many facets of humanity. When students participate in the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they gain a deeper sense of the profound magnitude of war and global conflict. Explore more photos from Washington, D.C., on Vidigami.
International travel and exposure to world languages and cultures are a major focus for Wellington students as early as middle school. Eighth graders visited Toronto this week for a cultural tour of the international city in neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Spanish enclaves, and Little India. Students are also immersed in the culture through food, music, and the arts. Explore more photos from Toronto on Vidigami.
This spring, 11th graders will travel on the WISE (Wellington International Student Experience) program to engage in long-term global projects as they make meaningful connections with places far from campus. They will broaden their perspectives and develop a deeper sense of responsibility for people and the planet as they investigate stewardship and sustainability in Denmark, human rights and community initiatives in Ghana, coral reef health in Curacao, identity and well-being through service and community immersion in Ecuador, and connection and communication through conversation and theatre in Italy.
“I look forward to hearing from our students when they return,” Director of Global Programs Cailey Oehler says, “ and how WISE exposed them to new perspectives, growth experiences, connections with faculty and their peers, and possibilities for becoming their best selves as citizens of a rapidly changing and interconnected world and as members of our Wellington community. It is my hope that WISE will inspire students to be lifelong travelers as well as learners.”
Through a wide range of exploratory experiences in which learning is an adventure filled with exciting revelations and personal breakthroughs, Wellington students are prepared and poised to make a difference in the world.