The Fairview Outdoor School: A Virtual Interdisciplinary Field Trip

Date: October 29, 1996

Location: Blair's Valley Lake, Indian River Wildlife Management Area, Washington County, Maryland.

Instructional objectives: The students were expected to achieve the following goals:

  1. To gain an appreciation of the delicate balance of the local ecosystems,
  2. To engage in scientific methods of data acquisition, analysis, and application to real-life ecological problems;
  3. To develop a sense of team and class identity through cooperative learning activities,
  4. To use creative writing techniques in order to express opinions and ideas related to ecology,
  5. To obtain a reading on the water quality of the Potomac River watershed according to statistical norms.

The setting:

Blair's Valley Lake is part of the Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area for the state of Maryland. It is located approximately 10 miles north of the Potomac River. It is also near the Pennsylvania state line and close to the town of Clear Spring, Md. The Lake is also located within 2 miles of the Whitetail Ski Resort which is of concern as a possible source of pollution due to a high level of cars, trash, and economic development.

What is the Fairview Outdoor School?

The Fairview Outdoor School is a full fledged, public school within the Washington County public schools with a fulltime staff of four science teachers. The school services all of the schools in the county, but it predominantly acts as a training for young elementary-age scientists learning about the local wildlife habitats, the ecosystems of Washington County, and the local flaura and fauna. The Outdoor school also hosted a field trip by North High's physics classes, led by Mr. Gene Macri.

The Ninth Grade Interdisciplinary Team, which goes by the name of "The New Millennium," visited the Blair's Valley Lake with the intention of testing its water quality, and then adding those data to the Rivers Project conducted by the University of Southern Illinois. In addition to gathering the data, the students were to write a piece of poetry or prose that captured the essence of their experience.

Each of the activities is described within the following links, each of which contains text and digital camera shots of the students in action. It is our hope that these activities might be replicated in other scholastic efforts that support an interdisciplinary approach to learning and discovery.

The Activities:

Testing the Water Quality of Blair's Valley Lake and its tributaries. This activity comprised our primary science component.
Canoeing on Blair's Valley Lake A Cooperative Learning Exercise
Analyzing the data for submission to the Rivers Project. This task employed our mathematics skills.
Creative writing with the RAFTS prompt.


The Ninth graders gained the experience of gathering scientific data that will help care for the fragile ecosystem of western Maryland.
They developed their writing skills, gained a sense of community, and started building relationships that will last long after graduation.

The staff at Fairview are a wonderful group of people. They can be seen here with the ITO team leaders. From left to right, Jo an Selby, Barb Cosner, Pearl Howell, Cheryl Cross, Larry Hayes, Nancy Hurley, and George Cassutto.

The photos on this section of our website were taken with a Macintosh Quicktake Digital Camera. We want to thank Pearl Howell of the Fairview Outdoor Education Center for being our photographer and for all her hard work!

Care to comment on this web project? Send us your impressions at Mr. Cassutto will pass on the message to the ITO team. Thanks!

You can also visit last year's interdisciplinary field trip to the media centers of Hagerstown. We hope you enjoy our website!

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