The Red Vest Diaries
Welcome to the Red Vest Diaries! Red Vest Diaries is named for the red fleece vests NSA's young scientist/scholars wear when they are out and about off-campus, learning and exploring.
Natural Science Academy believes that getting kids off-campus to explore the many natural and cultural wonders of their home here in Minnesota, is a vital part of their education.
NSA kids and their intrepid teachers take an "EdVenture" trip each month (sometimes more) to expose them to parks, museums and wild places. Learning can happen anywhere not just inside of a school building. In fact, some of our best learning takes place outside the school walls!
Big River Journey
Each fall, the 4th and 5th grade Otters participate in Big River Journey, an award winning partnership between the Park Service, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the DNR and Friends of the Mississippi River. They first travel to Fort Snelling State Park to learn about Minnesota history and floodplain ecology from the naturalists at Fort Snelling State Park. From there, they board a riverboat at Pike Island bound for downtown St. Paul. On the way they visit learning stations onboard the boat conducted by the BRJ partners. They bird watch with binoculars, examine tiny river creatures under the microscope and other fascinating activities.
Many of NSA's EdVentures are chosen by the Teaching Team according to curriculum focus, the school's environmental context for the year, student interest or other factors. We do, however have certain trips that are traditional and happen every year. One of those trips is to Afton Apple Orchard. The value of this trip in terms of seasonal, place-based learning is obvious but there are endless curricular tie-ins as well for our educators to take advantage of too! This year the K/1 Owls focused on seeds, the 2/3 Loons on pumpkin life cycles and the 4/5 Otters on energy flow in ecosystems.
Como Zoo Park and Conservatory
What a wonderful community amenity! The Como Zoo and Conservatory. Free and getting better all the time. The 4/5 Otters spent lots of time in the conservatory investigating primary producers (AKA plants), while the K/1 Owls studied animal habitats and the 2/3 Loons worked on animal behavior observation skills which included lots of data recording in their science note books. And lucky us, a baby giraffe had been born the week before so everyone enjoyed meeting that little guy!