Each day class lasts 90 minutes, unless otherwise arranged.
In a classic two day schedule, four or five day classes may be chosen.
In a classic three-day schedule, seven or eight day classes may be chosen.
Adopt-a-Tree | 2nd thru 6th grades
Encourages students to investigate the characteristics of a living tree and how it fits into the surrounding area. Activities focus on the parts of a tree and their functions including transpiration and photosynthesis. Students will also focus on growth patterns, the identification of trees using leaves and bark, and the resource choices humans must make in regards to forests.
Aquatics | 2nd thru 6th grades
Aquatics centers around the discovery of the organisms living within Lake Hazel, a 20-acre lake located on the center’s property as well as the small streams around camp. Hands-on activities will focus on gathering macro-invertebrates, identifying the diversity of life within the aquatic system and using this information to make inferences about the condition of the ecosystem. Students will also investigate various factors which may be influencing the diversity of life in Lake Hazel. After collecting information, students make observations on the similarities and differences of both systems (lake and stream). *A full 90 min. class is needed to explore both ecosystems.
Beaver Pond Exploration | 2nd thru 5th grades
Within a short period of time, Penn 4-H Center has been fortunate to witness the development of a new natural community. Beavers have transformed, through the use of a series of dams, a forest area into a wetland habitat. This change has not only created a home for the beavers but also for a variety of new plants and animals which the students will have the opportunity to observe. The students will also learn about the unique adaptations of beavers, and the roles beavers play in the creation of their environment.
Birds and Flight | 3rd thru 6th grades
The focus in this class will be twofold:
1) Concepts of flight, whether it be manned flight or the more graceful flight of feathered friends. Specific concepts will include lift, force, aerodynamics, control etc.
2) Ornithology, including shape and color of specific birds, habitat & diet of species, bird anatomy, etc. Specific species will be examined and discussed they are seen by students throughout the fields & woods of the Center.
Bugs & Us | 2nd thru 5th grades
Students will have the opportunity to catch & investigate various insects, from the beautiful butterfly to the rather pedestrian ant. Through these investigations students will learn the details of anatomy, life cycle and habitat for various species of insects, as well as gain an appreciation for each critter’s niche within the environment.
Canoeing - Communication Focus | 3rd thru 6th grades
Canoeing, with its necessity for coordination between partners in a boat, provides an excellent basis to examine specific characteristics of effective communication. Exercises before even getting into the boat, and then once again while on the water, will bring these characteristics of communication, as well as ideas of conflict management and cooperation, to the forefront. Students will obviously wear life jackets, while canoeing on Penn’s 20-acre Lake Hazel.
Canoeing - Ecological Focus | 3rd thru 6th grades
If ecological exploration is your preference, there may not be any better way of seeing Penn’s flaura and fauna than by canoeing on Lake Hazel. After teaching the necessary strokes and allowing for some time to practice, Penn’s staff will lead a flotilla of canoes around Lake Hazel to see what we can see. Depending on time of year, water levels and cooperation of local wildlife, students may enjoy views of waterfowl, the beaver dam, turtles, etc.
Compass & Orienteering | 4th thru 6th grades
Students are introduced to the use of a compass. This is a basic course, leading folks who have never used a compass for orienteering purposes to be comfortable with each of the three arrows on a compass, the ideas of “direction” and “bearing”, and how one might use a compass to get from point A to point B (or all the way to point Z, as the case may be). Along the way, students gain lessons in geography (Cardinal & Ordinal directions, Magnetic vs. True North) and Math (degrees in a circle, angles, etc.).
Cooperative Adventures | 3rd thru 6th grades
Students are given team challenges, presented with a touch of fantasy, that will highlight the importance of utilizing effective social skills in group interactions. Concepts include supportive communication, group/individual roles, leadership, active listening, and group decision making.
Dichotomous What? | 4th thru 6th grades
Introduces the techniques involved in creating and using dichotomous keys. In other words, they’ll begin to identify anatomic characteristics, and create a series of questions to aid in identification. Depending on the time of year, students will create dichotomous keys for trees, insects, reptiles or even aquatic creatures.
Fossils | 2nd thru 5th grades
This is NOT a class on dinosaurs. It is, however, an introduction to what a paleontologist might do, what he/she can learn from the fossil record, and how modern-day ecological concepts can assist us in making educated hypotheses concerning prehistoric events. Hands-on activities will focus on the process of fossilization, methods of excavation, interpretation of findings, and concepts of extinction.
Geology & Soils | 2nd thru 6th grades
Much of this class is devoted to the study of soils, as that is the most readily available geological medium to study in the Piedmont region. Students will be guided through explorations of soil components, erosion, percolation, soil “recycling”, etc. Of course there may also be various explorations into rock types, rock formation, etc.
Maps & Mapping | 3rd thru 6th grades
Depending on the age of the group, students are asked either to use an existing map to find their way to various points on Penn’s campus, or create a new map, attempting to put various camp features in their proper geographical position. Either way, we’ll investigate common themes such as reading maps, characteristics of all maps, direction, topography, physical and man-made features, etc.
Measuring The Forest | 4th thru 6th grades
This class could also be called "Math in the Woods", but it might scare a few kids off. Students are asked to investigate the forest much as a biologist or forester would prior to making forest management decisions. The students will determine tree sizes (diameter, height, circumference, basal area), number of board feet (a measure of volume), frequency of species, and many other measurements critical to proper forest stewardship. These measurements will then be applied to real-world questions.
Nature on Paper | 3rd thru 6th grades
This class appeals to the creative side of outdoor science and exploration. While exploring the fields, forests, trails and waters of the Penn Center, students will be asked to sketch images of the things they see and write short stories, poetry or simple verse in reference to the things they see. These are activities that do not necessarily come easy to most of us, so students will be led through exercises meant to bring their thoughts to the page.
Pioneer Living History | 2nd thru 5th grades
Penn Staff use first-person "living history" to introduce students to the lives and habits of the people that inhabited this area 225 years ago. The staff step into the roles of newly arrived settlers from the Pennsylvania colony who are attempting to make a go of it in the North Carolina Piedmont in 1781. This is the time of the American Revolution, the local Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and early Piedmont settlement. This rich local history is intertwined with lessons of everyday life without electricity, phones, automobiles, etc. Students will participate in chores including cooking, butter churning, tools and candle making.
Predator/Prey | 3rd thru 6th grades
A classic game in which students take turns being various animals on various levels of the food chain. Each student must find the necessary parts of his/her habitat to survive. Results are graphed so that lessons can be learned by watching what happens in various situations. (i.e. What if there are more predators than prey? What if the food supply is reduced? What if all the predators are removed?) Students will gain an understanding of the balance required in natural systems, and the role or “niche” various animals have in a community.
Saura Native Americans | 3rd thru 5th grades
The Saura native peoples lived in the Piedmont area of North & South Carolina for hundreds of years prior to European settlement. They were the most common civilization in this area, and still leave their mark, if only in name, on many of the local geographical features. Students will explore an area very similar to those used by the Saura, looking for clues of their existence here. Using these clues, students will focus on the Saura’s utilization of natural resources ( for food, clothing, shelter, tools), examine possible trade scenarios, and try to answer the questions surrounding the demise of the Saura people.
Wildlife Habitat | 2nd thru 5th grades
Students will explore several different habitats on Penn’s campus, focusing on the ecological principles that are common in each, and the different ways such principles manifest themselves. Activities and trail-side discussions will be used to examine ideas such as “carrying capacity”, “niche”, “habitat”, ”populations”, “interdependency”, “indicator species”, “threatened vs. endangered”, etc.
Evening Class List
Each evening class lasts approximately one hour. The final evening program is a large campfire with songs, skits, stories, etc. Groups spending only one night at Penn will need to choose one evening class, while groups spending two nights will need to choose three evening programs.
Astronomy | 2nd thru 6th grades
Focuses on the stars, the moon and the planets, allowing students to examine the night sky in a way that’s just not possible inside the confines of a normal school day. We’ll use the telescope to take a close look at a few specific celestial objects. We’ll also use star finders, star charts and binoculars to find various constellations and bright stars. Students will be lead through discussions and activities that bring understanding to topics such as moon phases; planetary alignment, size and distance; and the Earth’s relationship to other celestial bodies.
Heritage Dance | 2nd thru 5th grade
Students will begin what may seem like a modern-day dance, but will soon be joined by one of the Penn staff that had been working at the Pioneer site. This “pioneer” will lead the students in several “old-time” line dances such as the Virginia Reel. As an extension of the Pioneer Living class, the Heritage Dance further adds to the concepts discussed earlier.
New Games | 2nd thru 6th grades
What are new games? They are fun, active games that tend not to include the heavy dose of competition that most games familiar to students usually include. They may be a bit wacky, and might require some serious imagination and creativity, but they’ll entertain kids for hours. There is no real lesson involved, just good, clean fun to wear your students out prior to bed.
Night Hikes | 2nd thru 6th grades
Nocturnal animals venture out into the darkness to explore their surroundings, using many senses to locate sources of food, water, and shelter. Journeying into this nighttime environment, the students will identify many adaptations of nocturnal animals (i.e. large ears, triangulating hearing, echo location) experiment with their own sensory awareness, and become more familiar with the elements of the evening. Night Hikes are often a highlight of a student’s visit.
Stories in the Stars | 3rd thru 6th grades
Often used as a rainy-night alternative to astronomy, but capable of standing on its own, this class explores the “myths” or “stories” involving the creation of the night sky, and the stories behind specific constellations. Students will be given a cluster of stars with which they are to create a “constellation”, along with a story to go along with it.