r By Kati Evans
Merit Academy believes their students have important things to accomplish in their homes, schools, communities, and even the world. They do NOT want their students sitting in classrooms all the time so they use Project Based Learning and a healthy dose of Field Work…not field trips. Field Work is different than field trips. The students are not passive observers, they are active participants striving to know and understand and serve by doing, right alongside of the experts they work with. This creates an environment of authentic education, creative work situations, and student exploration.
This month Merit students have had several opportunities with fieldwork. Marine Biology students traveled to the Channel Islands in California. Liberty Eddy, a 10th-grade student, describes her experience, “At first I thought this would just be a fun vacation. But it was so much more to me. I was able to have experiences and conquer fears that I would never have experienced. I was able to snorkel and examine marine life first hand. In a lab I was able to do research on ocean water, capture fish to do studies on them, and learn more about myself in the process.”
Our woodworking class is currently building rocking horses. Jeht Perry, a 9th-grade student, went on a Field Work trip to BYU’s amazing woodshop facility. He explained, “I love the skills I am learning in class. Right now I am making a rocking horse. For my next project, I am building a guitar out of a tennis racket. It is going to be sick! I am really excited. This class has taught me how cool it is to build things. I love the guitar and I love building that I care about. We went to BYU for fieldwork. The projects I saw were really cool. I was so amazed at the skills they were using for these projects. That really motivated me to want to work on ideas and designs of my own.”
In 8th grade English class the students are experiencing Field Work just like Ernest Shackleton, the great British Antarctic explorer, and his crew did. The students are reading and learning about the endurance, and personal challenges that Shackleton and his men endured. Students were divided into teams and decided what supplies they would bring on their journey. Students mapped out and sketched their ships in the parking lot. They have hiked through snow, pulled sleds, eaten jerky, and learned how to prepare and cook blubber. Throughout this process each day the students were presented with a challenge that Shackleton faced. They put on their gear and they recreate that challenge and work as a team to do hard things! They are learning endurance, perseverance, and the love of literature.
This month the Spanish, German, and Mandarin Chinese classes had the opportunity to do Field Work in a unique and fun way. Each class went and had authentic food related to the language they were studying. They also were able to interact and ask questions to the owners of the restaurants in their respective languages. Conner Evans related this story, “Having the opportunity to use my German was really cool. I was impressed with myself at how well I communicated with others. The food was delicious! Of course, we know how good the chocolate is because my teacher always has fondue parties for us. But the German schnitzel was amazing”.
“Merit Academy’s Middle School and High School teachers are some of the most creative, professional, and engaging teachers anywhere”, says Dr. Jesse Meeks, the school’s Principal. “They are ready to take their students to the next level of education inside and outside of the classroom doing meaningful Field Work and helping students change the world today.”