Nature's Course

Hiking, canoeing, gazing at the stars: Each is a part of celebrating the outdoors. But double-check your syllabus, this isn't a camping trip — it's class. At University School's Hunting Valley campus, 220 acres in the Chagrin River Valley give students a chance to explore for credit. "We all identify with the image of a young person in class wishing they were outdoors," professor of science Michael Pereira says. "We actually go outside. The students all say it's fun. How could it not be fun?" Whether students are maple sugaring or collecting tadpoles, hands-on experience gives them an alternative to textbooks. "We do a little bit of everything," Pereira says. "We monitor meteorological data like wind patterns and barometric pressure, we study deer and squirrels, and we work with the Watershed Institute." The program even collaborates with Case Western faculty, giving high schoolers a chance to do research for professors. The opportunities have led some University School students to pursue degrees in biology, wildlife management and conservation biology. It's a different way to do homework, but it's definitely growing résumés.
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