Summer camp has kicked off at Apple Ridge Farm, but this year, instructors are running a pilot program to introduce kids to a new form of learning.
The farm runs an academic summer camp for Roanoke’s underserved youth between the ages of 6 and 16, according to organizers. The pilot program is helping kids learn both inside and outside the classroom.
Apple Ridge Farm has been a place many kids look forward to visiting each year.
“My favorite thing is the pool,” said Zariaya Bell, who is attending the summer camp. “We get to play with play noodles, and we get to splash each other.”
But now, Bell and her fellow campers will also be learning math while swimming in the pool. It’s something her dad, who is also a camp instructor, is excited about.
“It’s not your traditional paper-and-pencil type learning where you’re just in a classroom and the teacher’s just talking,” said Jordan Bell.
The pilot program is known as project-based learning. This summer, the kids have split off into different groups to work on projects focusing on topics like energy, sustainability and water, according to executive director John Lewis.
“Whether it be reading a book outside and seeing what they’re reading in the garden, or measuring the root system to the stump to the trunk to the leaves and then writing that and recording that down, that’s math,” Lewis explained.
The camp previously kept subjects like math and science separate from outdoor activities, Lewis said. But he believes this new project-based learning is a better way to teach kids problem solving, which can be used in real-life situations, he added.
“When they go back to school in the fall, they can take this and they can put it hands-on in their everyday life when they’re learning in school,” Jordan Bell said.
All age levels will participate in project-based learning, Lewis said. The last session of camp wraps up in early August, he added.
Apple Ridge Farm is a non-profit organization. Its summer camp is funded with the help of donations. If you would like to donate, click here.