Designing an Outdoor Classroom: FCPS Student Uses his Skills as a Boy Scout to Create Exciting and Versatile Learning Space
On a warm Tuesday morning at Ravensworth Elementary, a sixth grade class wanders underneath a white tent, each student scoping out where they’ll sit. Normally, these students would be indoors, sitting in plastic chairs, getting ready for their first lesson of the day. But today, their options are a bit more exciting: a tree stump painted bright yellow, a tree stump painted dark blue, or an interesting looking lounge chair constructed from two pieces of wood. As each student finds a seat, their attention turns to the giant white board at the front of the outdoor classroom and the teacher begins her lesson.
This colorful and lively learning area is all thanks to former Ravensworth student Logan Pembleton. Now 15-years-old and a sophomore at Lake Braddock Secondary School, Logan got involved in designing the outdoor classroom as part of his Eagle Scouts project. Late last spring, Ravensworth Principal Erika Aspuria put a post in her school’s weekly community newsletter, asking for help creating an outdoor classroom under the school’s new tent. When Logan and his mom saw the post, they knew it was the perfect opportunity to help students learn during the pandemic.
“Outdoor classrooms are very important this year because the kids have to wear masks, and it gets stuffy,” Logan said. “So when they go outside they can take them off.”
Logan began by doing research. He found the design for the wooden chairs online. He searched Home Depot for the best deals on lumber. He created a white board design that would be waterproof and mobile. Finally, the plan was ready to go, but he needed help getting it done. So he started sending out emails asking for volunteers.
“When Logan started planning, it was amazing how much enthusiasm and excitement there was from neighbors, friends and schoolmates.” Logan’s mom Lisa Pembleton said, “Everyone was really willing to pitch in or help out with donations. And the Ravensworth students that showed up were really excited about being able to tell their classmates that they helped with the project.”
Logan says one special part of the project was connecting with younger Boy Scouts who came out to help.
“You could figure out if they pay attention, and see how well they do, and see what they're capable of and what their limits are,” Logan said. “And then I could give them some advice and help them improve on whatever they're working on.”
The project took several hours over two days to complete, with about 14 people working each day. The classroom came together just in time, and was ready for students by the first day of school. Principal Aspuria says she plans to use Logan’s creations for years to come. She says one of her favorite parts of the project is that it brought people together, after several months of being apart.
“This is a student that has a connection to this school, '' she added. “This will always be his elementary school. He was able to leave a lasting impact here. And it’s also great he was able to draw in other scouts who are currently students here. It really truly was a community event and will have a community impact.”