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Middle School News

Experiential Education
Posted 09/21/2016 03:50PM

Students hit the trail, fly in the sky and take to the water

At Bullis, the first week of the new school year includes two days of Experiential Education. The program is an annual tradition to get students off campus and along with their classmates introduces them to any number of group activities. The goal is to build trust, community and have fun while getting to know each other. The activities also teach teamwork, an appreciation of nature and learning how to overcome obstacles with the support of your friends.

Each grade heads in a different direction. Here are some of the highlights from the trips, and a full photo gallery can be found here.

2nd grade: Our newest and youngest students tackled the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River on day one, and on day two joined fellow Lower Schoolers at Bar-T playing on ropes courses, completing puzzles and playing games.

3rd grade: Visited the Kid Museum at Davis Library to engage in hands-on STEM projects, and joined the rest of the Lower School at Bar-T's Mountainside Challenge and Retreat Center. There they rode the zip line, tackled the climbing wall and the giant swing and enjoyed other games.

"My favorite part of the experiential education," said Nixon Lomax '26, "was that anyone could take charge to find a solution to a problem and everyone could be right."

4th grade: Before their day at Bar-T, the 4th grade traveled to the Baltimore Museum of Industry where they shucked oysters, canned them, printed labels and prepared the cans. They also learned about the garment industry by cutting and sewing, and went on a tour of the other industries from Baltimore's history, including a print shop, apothecary, blacksmith and other machinery.

5th grade sailed on the Lady Maryland out of Baltimore Harbor. The Lady Maryland is a historic schooner on which the students learned about local history, economics and science. The students raised and lowered the sails, tested the water, towed for plankton, fished and even steered the vessel. Day two found the 5th grade at Bar-T with the rest of the Lower School.

6th grade: All 45 students hiked the Billy Goat Trail. A particularly challenging descent along the trail led to some great teamwork, as 6th grade coordinating teacher Marcie Demers reported: "As each advisor and student carefully climbed down, the students at the bottom offered words of encouragement to each of us by name. This spontaneous demonstration promoted our bonding as a grade and helped create a positive start to the new school year!"

7th grade: Students selected the activity of their choice with Calleva, including canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. On Day 2, the students went together to the Calleva Farm to tackle the ropes course, which included low elements, which emphasized collaboration and problem-solving, and high elements, which encouraged students to push themselves.

8th graders also chose their activity on the first day, selecting from climbing, kayaking, rafting, sailing or biking. On Day 2, the students went as a class to Calleva's Adventure Island.

9th grade: Students went through an outdoor-education centered program with Calleva to learn new skills and bond with classmates old and new. On Thursday, students arrived at the Manidokan Campground to find they were suddenly a member of one of 12 countries competing in "Calleva-lympics." Each country rotated through a series of lessons and activities designed to increase teamwork and teach them techniques for outdoor survival. After enjoying some free time and games, getting settled into tents, and eating a hearty dinner, everyone enjoyed a campfire and reflected on the day.

On Friday, students worked in smaller teams to compete in an adventure race around the campground. Students completed challenges on the course using only a map and their newly developed orienteering skills. "It was great to see so many of them working together and embracing their competitive spirit with students they had only just met the day before," reported one teacher.

"Experiential Ed was a great opportunity to meet some people I haven't had classes with or gotten a chance to talk to," said 9th grader Izzy Metee.

10th grade: For their first day of Experiential Ed, the 10th grade had their "Core Values Excavaganza" on the National Mall in D.C. Students worked in advisory groups to find artifacts and artwork that reflect the Bullis Core Values and posted them with a short description on Instagram. There were also some fun bonus posts, like building a human pyramid!

On the second day, students divided into ten groups to perform community service projects at the following locations:

  • A Wider Circle (moving donations)
  • Audubon Society Woodend Sanctuary (outdoor grounds work)
  • Button Farm (outdoor farm work
  • Stepping Stones Shelter (made dinner for shelter residents)
  • DC Central Kitchen (food prep)
  • DC Central Kitchen Nutrition Lab (food prep)
  • Locust Grove Nature Center (outdoor grounds work)
  • Interfaith Clothing Center (moving donations)
  • The Diener School (activity with Diener students to celebrate Deiner's anniversary)
  • Manor Care (visiting with residents and making cards)

11th grade: For the first day, students divided into groups to go visit some college campuses within a short drive of the Bullis campus. Students interested in entrepreneurship went to the College of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University; students interested in STEM went to Johns Hopkins University; and other students went to either Gettysburg College or the University of Richmond.

>On Day 2, students spent the morning hiking the Billy Goat Trail and then returned to campus for a presentation and Q-and-A with college representatives from the University of South Carolina and Gettysburg College.

12th grade went to Calleva Farm in Dickerson for the traditional senior camp-out. The first day was dedicated to the ropes course, which the students conquered in rotations of small groups. In the evening they played ultimate Frisbee, toured the famous haunted forest, and went on a hayride. The next day provided the students with a chance to choose from seven different activities: horseback riding, rafting, duckies, kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking.

"For the senior class, the Calleva trip was all about bonding for our last year," said Sarah Poling '17. "Having a close relationship to your class will create a memory that should be locked in your brain the rest of your life."

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10601 Falls Road Potomac MD 20854
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