Seeking to create a 21st century learning outdoor environment that inspires students and the community to investigate and inquire about the world around them, Mike Heun from Wauwatosa STEM (WSTEM) was awarded a $2,700 EFW grant for the Wauwatosa WILD Project.
WILD (Wauwatosa Is Learning Differently) is an outdoor learning environment providing a living laboratory for year-round activities for Wilson/WSTEM students, the district and surrounding communities. This living laboratory provides an interactive, innovative outdoor classroom, close to school, that supports what research has proven – students better retain math, science, language arts, and other skills that incorportate their environment and use of all senses. To date, the students of the WSTEM have utilized the outdoor classroom to do the following activities:
- Research reports including, Will There Ever be Fish in the Honey Creek Parkway?, History of the Honey Creek, and Bats and Birds of Wisconsin.
- Purchased bat and bird houses to be erected on the site.
- Water quality testing of the Honey Creek. Partnered with Marquette University to have them run water testing samples from the Honey Creek.
- Worked with Jim Ciha from the Milwaukee County Parks Department on plant and tree identification, planning for signs for the outdoor classroom, and implementation of next steps in the building and development process.
- A group of students from the WSTEM went in front of the Milwaukee County Parks Department to give a presentation to their board about our outdoor classroom and to ask for permission to begin building the classroom and this permission was granted over the winter break.
- Developed a web page that students will be able to add their research results onto.
EFW grants are enhancing the learning experience for Wauwatosa students. According to Maggie DeTrempe K-1 Teacher, WSTEM, "Project WILD has been a great learning experience for the K-1 group. The kids have really enjoyed learning from Mr. Jim Ciha who has been collaborating on the project. They have learned about the plants and different types of animals that live in our environment, that there are plants living here that are not indigenous, and about the creek and how the flood changed the area around the creek. They are excited to break ground and get building."