Nature and Environmental Studies (NEST)
Curriculum Summary & Grade by Grade Program Description
Nature and Environmental Studies at Greenwood School is a reflection of our philosophical approach to providing a dynamic, integrated, and relationship-based education. Naturalist and environmental advocate, John Muir reminds us that "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
Beyond academic skills, we want children to be adaptive, systems thinkers. We want them to find certainty and balance even when their world is changing. Balance is found in the dynamics, which is movement. In nature, the balance is in the movement of the seasons and natural processes, the relationships between night and day, wind and stillness. Students spend time in nature each week, exploring local fauna and ecosystems of the North Bay, or visiting working farms, museums or aquariums to discover history and sense of place. Environmental experiences in the early grades (K and Grades 1-2) foster an imaginative relationship and deep connection to nature, helping children acquire a strong sense of empathy and ethics with respect to the natural world and humanity. Environmental studies, consisting of exploration and contemplation, help develop a reverence for nature and stewardship of the Earth (Grades 3-5). In middle school (Grades 6-8) we move to environmental sciences, focusing on acquiring knowledge and understanding of truths or laws of nature, as students form an interactive relationship with their environment. This may include aspects of the upper grades core curriculum such as Zoology, Botany, Geology, Astronomy, Meteorology, Physics (magnetism, electricity, optics, acoustics, thermal physics, mechanics, etc.) and Chemistry.
Our approach to science education is based upon phenomenology, a method that demands a thorough, in-depth study of the phenomena, which must be seen (or more broadly, sensed) and described as accurately as possible. Accurate description is a means by which the student locates the phenomena's deeper, more generalizable patterns and structures, core aspects and qualities. This may then lead the student to clear concepts underlying the laws of physical and life sciences. The NEST program provides real opportunities for science education as a learning process based on encounter (doing), experience (feeling), and development of concepts(thinking).
In addition to being in nature, children practice environmental stewardship values on the campus through organic gardening, composting, recycling, and community service. Through this overall connection to, reverence for, and understanding of their environment, children naturally develop stewardship.
For more information on the curriculum of the Natural and Environmental Studies Program at each grade level, click here.