Priory School has won a grant from the Innovative Technology Education Fund for our project “Using Podcasting and Scientific Measurement to Expand Classroom Learning throughout Campus.” The goal of the project is to engage students in using our campus as a classroom. 

Students (or innovators) in Earth Science, Biology, and Environmental Science classes will work with faculty and community experts to develop and collect data. Priory achieved Arboretum Level I status last school year because of our work to map tree species (such as pin oak) on campus with a public interactive map. Students measured the coordinates using GIS (graphic information systems) software. We hope to continue and enhance this work next year through mapping many more ecological features such as wildflower gardens and prairie flora and fauna, aquatic species in our pond, bee hives, and tree species. 

A main component of our project is for innovators to learn by doing and creating. They will work closely with experts, teachers, and peers to produce compost that can be used in our gardens and develop an environment friendly for bees (that eventually makes honey). As our Form I-V grant proposal team members wrote, “Getting students outside and interacting with nature will provide a new and engaging way to break up the school day and de-stress.” 

While innovators in Dr. Erwin’s Video Production class will use podcasting equipment to document the ecological research and harvesting done on campus. Podcasts about campus ecology will be accessed via QR codes on permanent signage throughout campus to aid walking tours.

Priory is truly going from strength to strength. We have a history of integrating the ecological features of our 150-acre campus and sustainability education into the curriculum and extracurricular activities. Examples of past campus-based projects include: walking tours and studies of our creek and watersheds; an ecotrail and outdoor classroom; an annual tree-planting program for all 7th graders; solar arrays on multiple buildings; raising chickens in a coop; wildflower gardens for butterflies and bees; a community garden; and dining hall composting. Currently, we are developing a five-year strategic plan, which includes a “classroom extensions” component focused on place-based learning on campus, in the St. Louis region, nationally, and globally.

For more information about ITEF:

Facebook: @Innovative Technology Education Fund

Twitter: @ITEFSTL

The podcast equipment has arrived below.