Fallen leaves crunch beneath the steps of 20-plus sixth graders as they run about with clipboards in hand behind Edgewood Primary School. Carroll Ritter watches the miniature scientists, equipped with tape measurers and calculators, in their quests to determine the diameters and circumferences of surrounding trees.
"Yes, I knew it!" exclaims a boy, pumping a reddened fist into the air when his math comes out correctly. Within the next 30 minutes, each student's calculations will prove a familiar mathematical concept: pi = 3.14.
"Today's exercise is a practical use of math with hands-on outdoor experience," says Ritter, the environmental education coordinator at Sycamore Land Trust (SLT). "A lot of subjects can be taught using the outdoors. It's fun, it's practical, and it's real world."