STEM

Registration Open for New Public After-School Classes!

For the first time in our nearly 70-year history, Green Meadow Waldorf School is offering after-school classes that are open to the public. Beginning the week of September 10, 2018, all classes take place on our 11-acre wooded campus in Chestnut Ridge, in Rockland County, NY (just three miles from Bergen County, NJ). Courses are run by teachers, parents, and friends of our school.

These classes are designed to offer students opportunities to stretch their minds and bodies while they develop new skills and friendships.

Classes offered include: Activism/Civics, Capoiera, Circus Arts, Cooking, Culinary Arts, Fiber Craft, Gardening, Jewelry, KEVA Planks: The Making of an Architect!, Making Herbal Remedies and Products, Photography, Textile Design and Sewing, Theater Arts, and Woodworking.

Click here for the full brochure and here for the program webpage.

For more information and to register, please contact the teacher(s) of the class(es) that interest you. Contact information for each teacher is listed in the brochure.

For general program information, please contact Vicki Larson, Director of Communications and Marketing, 845.356.2514 x311 or vlarson@gmws.org.

Summer Blog Series: Highlights from The Bulletin (#7)

This Summer, we are sharing some of our favorite articles published this past year in The Bulletin. Enjoy! 

Science in the Waldorf School: Developing an Ecological Consciousness

By Harlan Gilbert, High School Math and Science Teacher

In the Kindergarten, children are active in wind, water, and soil conditions in every weather. These rich, holistic, practical experiences are not only joyous parts of childhood. They also give an unparalleled basis for comprehending the world in myriad ways. Upon this solid foundation of investigation into the natural world, scientific understanding can later build. At this age, the first ecological consciousness of the immediate environment forms through the children’s daily experiences of adults cultivating the natural world in healthy ways. One of the teachers’ primary goals is to model responsible citizenship in the natural world. Thus the importance given to garden work, tending the land by planting, watering and weeding in springtime, harvesting in summer, raking in autumn, shoveling snow in winter, and many more activities.

The curriculum of the first elementary school grades wisely includes extensive time for lessons on environmental awareness. In these years, students learn to “read the book of nature,” coming to recognize the wondrous range of animals and plants that live and land formations that form their surroundings. Imaginative descriptions form the basis of nature education at this age. For example, some years ago a First Grade teacher at Green Meadow named the low-lying area near the Arts Building the “Rocky Dell,” turning the area into an imaginative homeland for a generation of students, whose creative play has blossomed in this complex landscape.

Science lessons in these early grades center around stories of nature, bringing alive the wild and cultivated plants, the domesticated and wild animals, the streams and hills, the winds, and the stars, sun, and moon as intimately experienced aspects of our lives, just as the traditional stories of native peoples did for their children. After hearing a story about the mighty oak and the lithe willow, for example, students visit these in their natural setting. Ideally, the names and character of the elements of the natural world become a natural vocabulary for young children, so that by the time they are around nine years of age they should be able to recognize and name many of the local plants and animals, land formations, constellations of stars, etc., as naturally as they recognize and name each other.

In the following grades, the Waldorf curriculum leads students systematically further in their scientific understanding. This begins in Third Grade with an exploration of the ways humanity can take responsibility and care for the natural world of soil, plants, and animals. The Farming block in this year guides children to comprehend the farmer’s role as sustainer of the health of the Earth, balancing the interrelated needs of soil, crops, and livestock. They come to understand that healthy soil is the basis for healthy crops, that healthy crops are the basis for healthy livestock, and that healthy livestock and crops provide the manure and compost needed for healthy soil. The cycle is complete.

The Third Grade also includes a study of Building. Building depends upon understanding how the natural environment can be used to create stable structures, Understanding how different peoples developed unique architectural styles based upon the available materials illumines the natural environment from a new perspective. Building structures using at least one of these styles allows students to comprehend on a kinetic, tactile level the nature of materials and the principles of structure. As architecture advanced, building also came to depend upon the cooperation of a variety of people, each with special skills (masons, carpenters, glaziers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc.). Imagine if we each had to excavate, build a foundation, put up walls and a roof, insulate, glaze, plumb, and wire our houses! What would most houses look like if each was wholly built by its owner?! Thus building offers insight into the importance of the ecology of human interaction.

In Fourth Grade, students study animals. They quickly discover how each animal has a specialized form and particular way of life suitable for its particular environment. Comparing this to how human beings live—and recalling the many building styles they explored in Third Grade—they can discover that, while animals’ relationship to their surroundings is fixed, human beings can live in harmony with any environment. This flexibility is possible because we can both adapt our way of life and transform the environment. We rely on wisdom, where animals depend upon instinct.

In Fifth Grade, Waldorf students study plants. This usually begins with a broad survey of the simplest organisms—mushrooms, algae, and mosses—and proceeds through increasing complexity to arrive at the flowering plants. Each plant is suited to a particular soil and climate, so it is natural to study the climatic zones, and to see how these are affected by both latitude and elevation.

The study of plants offers a glimpse of the principles of sexual reproduction. This has wondrous consequences: the “offspring” of simpler plants, which use asexual reproduction, are exactly like their parents; however, through sexual reproduction, each organism is absolutely unique. This applies to them, too: each human child, too, is absolutely unique.

In Sixth Grade, the stones come into focus. These offer a fascinating plethora of form, texture, and color, all arising through three basic processes: intense heat (igneous rock), intense pressure (sedimentary rock), and a combination of both heat and pressure (metamorphic rock). Crystal formations are highly geometric, allowing connections to the study of geometry undertaken in this year.

Meet our Alumni: Isaiah Thron, Class of 2015

Isaiah started at Green Meadow in Nursery school. He says, "I was at GMWS for 15 years. Only missed out on Parent & Child." 

Green Meadow: Can you say a little bit about where you go to college and what you are studying?

Isaiah Thron: I am studying at SUNY Binghamton University. I am majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Sustainable Engineering. 

GM: How did Green Meadow prepare you for college? What were the best aspects of your time at Green Meadow? What do you think makes Green Meadow most unique or special?

IT: I'm going to answer those questions in reverse order. I feel like Green Meadow truly educates their students. Going to the roots of the word "educate," it means "to draw out." My experience at Green Meadow is that teachers make you really think about the material, come to your own conclusions, and "draw out" the knowledge from yourself. I think this is one of the things that makes Green Meadow unique, along with plenty of other things (only some of which have to do with fairies and gnomes). 

Green Meadow allowed me to have a rich and joyful childhood, full of imagination and nature. In the Lower School, everything was taught through a story. Even Math, with Prince Addition and Princess Subtraction, was introduced to us in first grade through the medium of a story. That is one way that we had to use our imagination, but also outside of the classroom, with the no media policy. This made us be creative: go outside, be our own superheros, and build castles and grand rivers out of sticks and the hose. Green Meadow created the opportunity for us to connect with nature, bringing us on nature walks and having us play outside no matter the weather, rain or shine, allowing us to build a relationship with the world we live in. 

The other thing that I love about Green Meadow is the teachers. Lower School through High School, they all care. I have always felt like the teachers were there for me and that they saw me as an individual, not just another student. 

Now, how did Green Meadow prepare me for college? Honestly, I feel like it's a little bit silly that everything is about getting into the best college, then getting the best job, and so on. As someone who has just finished the first two years of engineering school, I'm not sure anything can really prepare you for college. But Green Meadow did prepare me, in a few ways. I learned how to take in the material and understand the concept. This is very useful for any kind of learning, but it especially helped me in a Chemistry course my first semester (which was both Chem 1 and 2 in one semester). I came to understand the material and was also able to explain it to my friends who were struggling.

The material at Green Meadow is expansive enough that everyone can choose different directions to go in their lives, but deep enough that even now in Calculus 3, I am still learning things that we covered in High School (in the upper math group). I've had that experience in many of my general science classes.

Green Meadow prepared me for more than just succeeding in college; it prepared me to succeed in life. I graduated with the ability to learn and with at least a little bit of knowledge in many fields. 

GM: What advice would you give to a parent or student considering GMWS, especially someone who thinks they might want to study STEM?

IT: Green Meadow fosters creativity, which is imperative in all subjects but especially, as some might not know, in STEM. In the STEM fields, creativity is needed to come up with solutions and design projects.

If you want to learn more about a field that you are interested in, join a club or do outside work that will teach you about the subject. Green Meadow builds you up so you will be able to absorb the material and make it part of you.

Also, have fun and don't let the work stress you out!

 

Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of  Dyana van Campen .

Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of Dyana van Campen.