5-Day/4-Night Educational Program
Experience the amazing processes that affect life on our planet by becoming immersed in five days of fun, life-changing activities, and community living. Sunship Earth is a curriculum-based environmental program that presents students with major science concepts incorporating an appreciation of Earth’s wonders, and motivating them to protect the precious life systems on our planet. They will…
- …become clouds traveling through the water cycle
- …work as food producers inside of a leaf to construct molecules that enable photosynthesis
- …avoid becoming the prey of hungry coyotes in a game of strategy.
Other basic Sunship Earth information follows.
- Group Size: 25 – 35 students + 6 adults (teachers and parents from the school)
- Grades: 5th – 6th
- Camp Location: T.R.E.E.’s Outdoor Classroom – Northshore
- Length: 5 Day/4 Nights – Overnight resident camp for 5th and 6th grades – typically Friday through Tuesday
- Cost: Fees paid cover program materials, meals, lodging, and educator teaching time (free for adult chaperones).
- Availability: Offered to New Orleans area students – from October through April
- Follow-up activities at school and at home are offered and are strongly encouraged.
Sunship Earth is a copyrighted program that was developed by the Institute for Earth Education.
Sunship Earth is a comprehensive environmental science program geared to 5th and 6th graders.
The on-site portion of the program lasts five days and four nights at the Sunship Study Station, a natural outdoor setting at T.R.E.E.’s Outdoor Classroom just west of Covington. The Sunship Earth staff, classroom teacher and volunteer chaperones combine efforts to provide a dynamic, effective learning experience. The teacher extends this program back at school, which encourages the students to continue to apply their learning beyond the classroom.
Sunship Earth helps students understand how their world functions and gives them a special appreciation of that knowledge through their head, heart, and hands. Sunship Earth acquaints young people with basic understandings of how the earth’s life systems function (head), and helps them to better know the earth as their place in space and to appreciate the richness and the beauty of our planet through first-hand contact (heart). In addition, Sunship Earth strives to help young people see that they have a dual role as passenger and crew member on this “Sun-ship”, and finally, gives each student a chance to explore the personal significance behind this new awareness (hands).
The following are some important points you’ll want to know:
- Sunship Earth has been run by T.R.E.E. for over two decades serving mostly New Orleans students.
- The staff is highly trained, caring and committed.
- A minimum of one adult to three children is maintained for a class of approximately 30 students. Students are NEVER without supervision.
- The class is divided into groups of five or six students by the teacher and each group is supervised by one of the school’s adult chaperones. Students receive direct instruction from T.R.E.E. staff who provide for personal, quality learning for each child.
- Time during meals, “heart” activities, processing activities, campfire, crafts, etc. is spent as a whole class group.
- The school provides a qualified person to give medications. A hospital is only 15 minutes from camp and staff members receive CPR training.
- Students live in dormitory-type buildings. Boys and male chaperones from the school sleep on one side; girls and female chaperones from the school sleep on the other. A cinder block dividing wall and bathrooms are between the two sides.
- Participants are fed by T.R.E.E. staff. Meals are tailored to fit children’s eating habits while still being nutritious and accommodating various eating styles (vegetarian). Snacks are provided throughout the day while on trails.
- Fees paid for program participation includes program supplies, meals, lodging and educator time spent before, during and after the outdoor session.
The week at the Sunship Study Station is an extremely busy one. Each day is filled with a complete schedule of learning experiences. Listed here are some of the highlights of the week and major program elements. Since specific scheduling may vary somewhat, this briefing sheet is designed to give a general idea of what the week will be like.
Students, teachers and parent volunteers are greeted and familiarized with the Sunship Earth grounds, dining hall and bunkhouse sleeping areas. Dinner is served and an evening workshop is conducted as an introductory activity of community building.
WELCOME ABOARD – An introductory activity of community building provides an exciting kickoff to the week and acquaints the students with the Sunship theme. As passengers on this planet, the students are given an important task for the week. Their mission is to find out how the Sunship Earth operates, and how its human passengers can live in harmony with its non-human passengers and the spaces in which we all live and depend upon.
TOUCH THE EARTH – Small groups led by T.R.E.E. educators and parent chaperones depart from a centrally located “hub” where they become world-famous artists recognizing the color and beauty in small things, transform into giants, and blast off to miniature planets. The atmosphere is fun and the activities emphasize looking at the natural world in new ways, building awareness through all five senses, and awakening a “sense of wonder.”
MAGIC SPOTS – Each day there is time set aside for solitude. On Saturday, following Touch the Earth, students locate their own magic spot to which they will return throughout the week. Magic Spot time provides the opportunity for each child to develop an easy, quiet relationship with one particular natural space. At these times, they will use their Log Books which contain specially designed journal activities.
Saturday Afternoon, Sunday Morning, and Monday Afternoon
CONCEPT PATHS – One entire afternoon and two full mornings at the Sunship Study Station are devoted to a series of exciting learning experiences – the Concept Paths. In their small groups the students will encounter T.R.E.E. educators along the trails learning seven key ecological concepts: energy flow, cycles, diversity, community, interrelationships, change, and adaptation. An official Passport (a booklet type of learning tool) provides the continuity throughout the week’s adventures. During the course of the week, the kids will experience fifteen different Concept Path activities. They will crawl inside a giant leaf to learn how green plants capture the sun’s energy. They will become birds to discover how the hummingbird is perfectly adapted to get nectar from flowers. When they complete their Passports, they will have a solid understanding of how the Sunship’s ecological systems work.
DISCOVERY PARTIES – These activities are designed to encourage students to discover for themselves the fascinating things that live on our planet. In “Lost Letters”, for example, small groups led by T.R.E.E. educators head out in search of the meaning of a long-lost word. With the help of a set of clues, they make lots of exciting finds and eventually figure out the word for themselves.
IMMERSING ACTIVITIES – These activities are aimed at total sensory involvement with the natural world. In “Micro Parks”, each student becomes a “Park Ranger” who is in charge of setting up a miniature national park in a small area on the ground. Once the parks’ special attractions (moss, rocks, tiny plants, small critters, etc) are marked with flags, tours are held so that everyone can share their parks.
MEALS – At the Sunship Earth Station, we attempt to make every part of the day a learning experience. The menu removes the disguises from foods by relating the dishes to their original sources. Students learn how to cut back on energy waste at meal times, everyone learns the identities of the “Mystery Passengers”, and there are Discovery Announcements, poetry readings and sharing times about the day’s events.
CRAFTS – After dinner, students will have the opportunity to work on crafts that are compatible with the Sunship Earth theme.
CAMPFIRES – The warmth and community spirit of a campfire allows time to wind down from the busy day, to enjoy each others company and to roast and eat marshmallows.
THE JOURNEY HOME – After the regular campfire, a special campfire is held and an “ancient legend” is told concerning a group of people whose young ones embark on a journey down a river to discover the seven secrets of life (which correspond to the seven ecological concepts learned during the week) in order to help their people better understand the Earth. The message is that the students, like the young ones in the story, must return to their people and share with them their newly gained understanding of, and feelings for the Earth.
MODEL PLANETS – The students, in small groups, construct a “Miniature Sunship” on a small area of the ground. Using leaves, sticks, rocks, etc., they fill their model planet with “living things” and include all the necessary ecological support systems (examples of the seven concepts). Ambassadors travel around the “solar system” and share ideas. Many true to life situations take place creating differing circumstances on each planet, illustrating unintentional happenings on the real planet.
SUNSHIP CONVENTION – To finish the week, students are asked to examine their daily lives to think of something they can do to help keep the Sunship in good working order. Their commitments to be better passengers are recorded in their passports and are shared at the Sunship convention, attended by all small groups. They depart for home on a note of personal responsibility.