Samford Valley Steiner School: Outdoor Classroom

Samford Valley Steiner School

Outdoor Classroom

After four working bees of sustained effort from the parent community throughout 2019 we are happy to announce that the new SVSS Outdoor Classroom is well and truly open for business! 

The space provides a whole host of benefits and resources to sustain an Outdoor Curriculum at SVSS including a fire pit, a covered ‘classroom’ space and a tool use area.  Upon this canvas Year 9 have been working hard throughout Semester 1 to make the area beautiful and useful.  They have started our forest trail which will eventually support a walk through the bush in the southwest corner of the school from the Outdoor Classroom up to the car park.  They have assembled and erected a 15’ ridgepole for our tarp classroom cover, started the tool area fencing, built firewood storage, created a compost heap and started to delineate a process pen for holding the limbs and cuttings from throughout the school prior to it’s use in the classroom. 

This purposeful work not only enables the students to be a part of building something that will long live at our school, but also provides them the physical activity, teamwork and camaraderie so needed in the Year 9 student.  The students learn a whole host of practical skills and knowledge when working without machinery or modern fixings (everything is lashed or pegged with natural materials) and they get to do all this whilst also connecting to nature.  

Year 10 students are using  the area for their Physics Practice Lesson toward their CSE requirement.  In Term 3 we will be investigating the static mechanics of bridges, structures and arches through the building of a large, domed cob oven for the space.  The students will learn about opposing forces, compression and tension and material properties during this fantastic project.  Once the oven is complete (Term 4) we will then investigate thermodynamics.  Working with heat, heat transference, specific heat capacity and insulation as the students get a practical, hands on experience of working with many and varied materials throughout the term.

There are many future plans for the space including a more permanent shingle or thatched roof to replace our temporary tarpaulins, continual upgrades to our kitchen area (started by this oven) and a coppice from which to grow the building materials we will use so much of.  We plan to build a rammed earth storage shed with the students and create an outdoor smithy complete with forge and casting pit.  There will be an area for raku glazing and firing of ceramics, a food forest, bush tucker garden and so much more besides.  We hope that as the program grows all years will have a hand in creating something wonderful in this space.

Over the last few months, we have heard some students from the younger years refer to this space as the ‘Secret Classroom’ or the ‘Enchanted Classroom’, which is a joy to hear!  This is a space to support the whole school from K-12 and has activities and uses for every level of learning including our pastoral care programs.  We have also been fortunate to have First Nations elders and cultural educators use the area, connect with the ancestors and create a safe space for open communication to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s perspectives and history.