Set in scenic Magnuson Park, Seattle Waldorf High School is perched on the coast of Lake Washington, the state’s second-largest freshwater lake. The lake offers a host of opportunities for students as they incorporate its beauty into their artwork, sail its waters, practice environmental stewardship through local service projects, and enliven science classes through the direct study of its ecosystems. Simply put, the water of Lake Washington contributes to outdoor experiential education at its best.
To live in Seattle is to coexist with water. We are showered by rain most months and surrounded by rivers, lakes, and sound. Water is a playground for some, a home for others, and for many, a livelihood.
Seattle Waldorf School students don their uniform of rain gear and rubber boots starting in preschool. Outdoors most of their school day, children have ample opportunity for early hydrology lessons as they splash through puddles, play with water pumps, and make bridges and dams in their sandbox.
Water accompanies grade school students on most field and camping trips. It feeds the gardens grown by students and they learn early what keeps it healthy and brings harm to it.
In grade 4, the students begin to make connections between human actions and the water by conducting water testing of Thornton Creek and Willow Creek. Located directly down the road from the grade school campus, this important work is part of the Thornton Creek Alliance Citizen Science Project.
As part of their Chemistry class this fall, grade 9 students chose a steam, lake, or pond near their home. They visited the site twice a week to measure various chemical qualities of the water and examine the biological species living within. The class learned about and measured levels of pollutants from paints, detergents, and fertilizers that go down the storm drains, into Puget Sound, and affect aquatic life and the health of our waterways. As a final project, the class stenciled reminders on storm drains to raise awareness that gutter drains are directly linked to the Puget Sound.
Students synthesize their reading, research, and discussion of these topics into detailed main lesson books. Each page summarizes a topic and is hand illustrated with supporting images.