Project O.R.I.E.N.T.

- Outdoor Research in Environmental Science, Navigation and Technology -

Project O.R.I.E.N.T.

Project O.R.I.E.N.T is an environmental science program for middle school students that combines hands-on science learning activities with team-building to deliver a unique and truly immersive experiential learning opportunity for students. Lessons on the first day of the program focus on becoming familiar with the use of topographic maps, the concepts of latitude and longitude, and how to use GPS units for navigation. Students also learn about the high-tech sport of ‘geocaching,’ by exploring Penn’s natural surroundings and finding small caches hidden on our campus.

Once the students have become acquainted with maps and GPS navigation, they launch into a camp-wide scavenger hunt using their newly learned skills to find caches hidden all over the hills, forests, lakes and streams of BJP. Each cache contains specific instructions for a science, math, or team challenge exploration based upon the surrounding physical, biological or cultural features of the site. Students work together to complete the exploration before receiving coordinates for their next cache. Teachable moments occur along the way as students immerse themselves in the experiential learning environment at Penn.

Lead teachers can select a specific focus for their visit. Topics for exploration can be concentrated on life or earth sciences, or can take an interdisciplinary approach to include math and team challenges. The program is ideal as a three-day experience, but can be modified to fit a two or one-day schedule.

Explorations are designed and chosen to support classroom learning and the NC Standard Course of Study. Explorations include but are not limited to:

  • Biotic inventories
  • Forestry measurements
  • Leaf litter
  • Creative Arts
  • Population counts
  • Math challenges
  • Aquatic health assessments using biotic indices
  • Event Caches such as High ropes, canoeing, fishing
  • Stream flow analysis
  • Plankton netting
  • Team challenges

To enroll your class in the O.R.I.E.N.T Program, contact Education Director Kyle Shillinglaw at 336-349-9445 or