New Outdoor Classroom Will Expand and Enhance RL’s Learning Spaces

At the edge of Roxbury Latin’s 50 acres of undeveloped forest is the school’s newest—and most unusual—campus addition: an outdoor classroom seating 80 students, equipped with a secured white board and a teacher’s table that doubles as a water-tight storage container. The classroom was completed in May and has already seen use—most recently by faculty during end-of-year meetings. When classes begin in August (and when weather permits!) the classroom will host a steady stream of students and faculty throughout the school year.

Faculty from all academic departments are eager to take advantage of the new space—none more so than science faculty member Elizabeth Carroll, whose Class VI Natural Design students spend the first four weeks of the school year working daily in the R.L. forest, learning the fundamentals of the scientific process: how to make scientific observations, collect data, formulate a hypothesis, and test it. The new outdoor classroom will enable seamless transition between traditional instruction and students’ exploration in the field. Similarly, Mrs. Carroll’s Class I Environmental Science class spends several weeks outside in the fall learning how ecosystems function and how to “read the forested landscape”—observing the details of current forest conditions and determining the history of that particular site.

The outdoor classroom was made possible by generous contributions from members of the R.L. community. The Arthur Vining Davis Science Fund awarded a grant to the school toward construction of the space, and Liberty Cedar Company of West Kingston, Rhode Island, provided the classroom’s 16 reclaimed oak log benches.

Brendan Gibbons (II) reported on the new classroom space in the spring issue of The Tripod; in that article he quoted Cam Keough (II), who is eager to experience class in the great outdoors: “[It’s] exciting that R.L. is branching out and implementing new education methods that challenge traditional learning.”