School Spotlight: Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy
Field trips are always a joyous occasion for kids, even if it means having to trudge through Minnesota’s frozen tundra.
“It’s really cool cause you can get out of the classroom and do other stuff other than sitting in a chair,” said Ryan Koivu, a 4th grader at Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy.
Sitting in a classroom would certainly be a lot warmer, but there’s something to be said about connecting with nature and exploring the great outdoors with trained naturalists like Patty Maher.
“We’ve been seeing the kids all winter long and all school-year long, every grade level,” said Maher, an outdoor education supervisor with the Three Rivers Park District. “We customize their program based on what they’re learning in the classroom.”
Maher and other naturalists work with students from Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy as part of an ongoing partnership that provides kids with unique learning experiences.
“Our students have a very unique and special opportunity,” said Matthew Thompson, CBPA’s curriculum integration coordinator. “For example, with Three Rivers Parks, they get nearly 50 different experiences, both on and off site with the naturalists, from kindergarten all the way through 5th grade.”
Snowshoeing at the Coon Rapids Dam
On a Friday in February, one such experience consisted of snowshoeing at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Brooklyn Park.
“It’s a great way to explore in places that, in the summertime, we wouldn’t want to go cause maybe there’s poison ivy or too much shrubbery or too much water,” said Allison Holzer, a naturalist with Three Rivers.
Yet this excursion was about more than just walking around in the snow. The students got to explore the world around them.
“There’s a lot of different ecosystems right here in this little park, so we go out and enjoy all those different places with the kids,” Maher said.
On this snowshoeing adventure, the students examined some of the plant life, and they got up close and personal with dead wildlife.
But even a dead animal became a learning opportunity, as the students discussed the difference between predator and prey.
The hope is that experiences like this will help foster a love of science. Or at the very least, teach the kids how to become curious about their surroundings.
Staff members at Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy say their partnership with Three Rivers is so popular that the school has a waiting list at every grade level.