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Ironton Middle School plans land lab

It won’t be long before Ironton Middle School students can take their lessons outside.

Friday, December 01, 2000

It won’t be long before Ironton Middle School students can take their lessons outside.

Teachers, PTA members and community volunteers worked this fall to transform about five acres of land along the river near the school into an Outdoor Learning Lab.

Students have visited and want to go back again, soon, said fourth-grade science teacher Alice Brown, who is spearheading the project.

"They’ve been so excited, asking when do we get to go back," Mrs. Brown said. "We will go back in the winter to see the difference but we’d like to get a shelter in place by then."

The lab project began with a $4,807 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, awarded to help the school replant river cane in the area.

The lab project is designed to boost the disappearing species while providing students with a hands-on learning experience about the cane’s botany, historical uses and its environment.

River cane is more like bamboo, Mrs. Brown said.

"They used to use it for fishing poles and it used to be all along the river but there’s hardly any left," she said.

Although teachers, parents and a group of volunteers have made improvements to the lab area, much work remains to be done.

The National Guard will build a footbridge, which will save students about 10 minutes walking time to get to the land lab area.

Volunteers will try making benches from old telephone poles, but there’s no bathroom facilities or tables for eating lunch, Mrs. Brown said.

They plan to ask civic clubs and other groups for help, too.

Then, they can start weekly classes, she said.

Mrs. Brown team teaches with two others, Shanna Collins in math and Teresa Robinson in language arts. They will all teach lessons using the lab.

The students will pick up on lessons much easier there because they can see the lessons firsthand, Mrs. Brown added.

Students from every grade in Ironton, and Open Door School, will have access to the land lab.

Teachers and volunteers have a donation wish list for the project:

– a 40-foot pond liner, storage building, topsoil, wheelbarrow, shovels, rakes, hoes, Weedeater, gasoline, lawnmower, winter rye and winter wheat seed, wooden stakes, benches, mattocks.