Mountain View Intermediate (MVI) recently completed an outdoor learning shelter as a place for students to get outside in the fresh air. The shelter sits in front of the school near Porters Creek, a small tributary that flows into the Cullasaja River. Students from both Macon Middle School and MVI use the stream to conduct hands-on research on stream quality and stream ecology.
The shelter, which can seat 50 students, will provide the space for a myriad of learning activities. Over the past two years, MVI has been working with Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Schoolyard Program to incorporate more hands-on, relevant scientific research into science courses and the extracurricular science club. Moreover, the school has been working with the Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee to discuss opportunities for restoration work on Porter’s Creek, which is deeply incised and difficult for students to access because of steep, eroding stream banks. Because of MVI’s location and the relationship with Coweeta LTER and Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District, which are looking at ways to understand impacts to and improve water quality in the mountains, MVI has a perfect opportunity to incorporate the shelter as a meeting place to provide meaningful and useful experiences for students.
The construction of the outdoor learning shelter has truly been a community effort. The structure was designed pro bono by Tony Oberley of T & S Construction and Ritter Associates Architecture. The engineering work was donated by Chris Hanners of CDH Engineering. Survey work was donated by Ben West with Smoky Mountain Surveying. The structure was built by T & S Construction and more than 150 hours of volunteer time was logged by a dedicated group of volunteers from the Coweeta LTER program plus employees and parents from Mountain View Intermediate School. Funding for the structure was provided by Coweeta LTER Schoolyard Program (which is funded by the National Science Foundation through the University of Georgia), the Macon County Board of Commissioners, the Macon County Board of Education, the Mountain View Intermediate PTO, and the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water which was funded through the Walmart Foundation. Cedar shakes and shrubs were donated by Lowe’s of Franklin.