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Ruch Community Outdoor School Provides Outdoor Education for Washington Elementary School

Washington Elementary Outdoor Exploration Camp funded by Measure 99

Medford School District’s premiere outdoor school, Ruch Outdoor Community School, is providing a comprehensive outdoor school experience for Washington Elementary School students as part of a district and statewide effort to remove barriers for student access to outdoor education. The Medford School District began offering outdoor school to sixth graders in 2017 after the passage of Measure 99, which designated funding for outdoor school programming for students in Oregon. This is the first year that every sixth grader in the Medford School District will participate.

“There are students in the Medford School District who have never been to Crater Lake or on a camping trip,” said Julie Barry, Principal of Ruch Community Outdoor School. “Because we are recognized as an outdoor school, we wanted to share what we do with other kids in town.”

The three-day program for Washington students will include lessons in field journaling, gold mining, watershed studies, fire ecology, and insect sampling. Students will explore area trails and even embark on a Big Foot hunt.

“We are creating a viable, inspiring program of experiential learning and we hope more schools in the future will take advantage,” said Barry.

What is Outdoor School? It is learning tied to state and national standards, but the education is outside the classroom. For example, it may include biology field trips, observing at a recycling plant or visiting a museum. It sometimes involves residential or journey wilderness-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges and outdoor activities.

C4 Robotics Team Advances to the World Championship

Hillsboro, OR —What they thought would be their last competition of the year at the Oregon State Championship (March 9-10) turned into an advancement to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship for the C4 robotics team of St. Mary’s School, Medford, Oregon. The team was in the winning alliance for the TECH Division, with the alliance placing second overall (Finalist Alliance). The alliance was comprised of teams Aphelion, C4, and That’s a Lot of Damage. More than 200 FTC teams compete in Oregon. The FIRST World Championship will take place April 17-20 in Houston, TX.

C4 has had a great season this year, winning first place for the most coveted FIRST award, the Inspire Award, and finishing in the champion alliance at the SOAR (Southern Oregon Area Robotics) FTC League Championship in January. For the past four years, C4 has advanced all the way through the state championship, also qualifying for the World Championship their first season (2016). FTC competition components include: creation of a robot designed and programmed for an annually released game challenge and tournament competition, submission of a comprehensive team engineering notebook, and delivery of interviews and a prepared presentation to judges panels at tournaments.

Seven of the ten St. Mary’s C4 team members are seniors, and four have been building robots for the FTC competition since they were freshmen when they formed the St. Mary’s team. C4 members include Heikki Ashby, Benjamin Burt, Joshua Hewitt, Ryan Becquer, Ian Cool, Luke Fernandes, Carson Grebosky, Emma Warr, Mitchell Willhite, and Eric Wang. Coaching the team are Ted Willhite, Jeff Hewitt, and Lisa Burt.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a STEM robotics program for students grades 7-12 and includes over 7,000 teams worldwide with over 70,100 students participating in over 70 countries. FIRST ( For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is based in Manchester, NH, and is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, and to motivate them to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM fields ( ).

Questions contact Michele Zimmer at St. Mary’s School, , 541-773-7877.