TA Launches Adventure Team and Environmental Studies Course

TA Launches Adventure Team and Environmental Studies Course

Since his arrival to Thetford Academy in early May, Thetford Outdoor Program (TOP) Coordinator Scott Ellis has designed the TA outdoor after school program and refined TA’s half-day environmental studies and outdoor education course, both of which will launch this fall.  The class is nearing full enrollment; sign-ups for the after school program will begin in the fall.

The mission of TA’s outdoor initiative, now known as Thetford Outdoor Program (TOP), is to ignite academic curiosity and foster environmental stewardship through outdoor exploration, recreation and project-based, experiential learning.

The after school program, to be called the TOP Adventure Team, will meet after school two days a week and will require that students commit to the program for one season at a time. A third day per week will be optional and open to all students. In addition, outdoor exploration trips will be organized on occasional afternoons or weekends.

TOP Adventure Team outdoor activities will include hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, camping, orienteering, mountain biking, camp craft, hunter safety, natural history, wilderness survival, and wilderness medicine.

TOP Environmental Studies Course, which is available as a full-year or one-semester half-day course, is an interdisciplinary, program focused on project-based, hands-on, and experiential learning. This course will take advantage of the vast natural resources surrounding the campus. Students should expect to be outside almost every day. Ecological literacy, field experiments, leadership, creation of community resources and self-reflection are key components of the class.

Students will conduct a series of scientific experiments and independent projects on forest ecology, snow science, and the land’s history, geology, and fluvial dynamics. Embedded in the experiments are such concepts as photosynthesis, geologic time, life cycles, humans impact on the environment, natural selection, biological evolution, weather, climate change, and student leadership.

Students will also take part in a book club where they will read and reflect upon classic and contemporary outdoor-focused literature, including Walden by Thoreau, Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels, The Trap by John Smelcer and other selected readings.

At the end of each semester students will complete a capstone project of their choice that will be focused on creating a community resource and sharing what they have learned. Overall, students in this class will gain a deeper connection to the natural world and what role they play in that world.

During the course, students will earn four credits: two in Science, one in English, and one elective credit.

Questions about the TOP Adventure Team or the TOP Environmental Studies Course may be directed to Scott Ellis.