Upper Level Homeschool Classes (ages 12–14)

Fernbrook Farms Environmental Education Center runs hands-on, outdoor science and nature classes here at the Farm for Homeschool students ages 6–14 throughout the school year. We offer our Lower Level Homeschool Program for ages 6–11 and an Upper Level Homeschool Program for ages 12–14. Highly qualified, enthusiastic instructors provide groups of ten students or less with a unique opportunity for hands-on, experiential learning about nature, ecology, and agriculture right here in the forests, meadows, ponds, farm fields and streams of Fernbrook Farms.

The year is divided into three 8-week semesters (fall, winter and spring) and each class is two hours long. Semesters include a variety of curriculum topics that highlight the varied ecosystems of the farm. Past curriculum topics include the water cycle(sample curriculum below), survival skills, forestry, and the animal kingdom to name a few.

The Upper Level Homeschool Program is an in-depth science program for students 12–14 years old. The Upper Level curriculum is designed to encourage students to think critically and apply their knowledge of ecology, the environment, and agriculture to real life situations by instilling a strong understanding of ecological concepts. Through an emphasis on experiential learning, high expectations are set as the students build sturdy science reasoning skills in their in-depth analysis of the varied ecological studies they carry out at Fernbrook Farms.

Parent Testimonials:

  • “We are a family who loves science and this program keep my daughter excited about learning! We love it here. I love that they get to really get into everything.”
  • “Hands-on experience; wonderful staff. It keeps getting better—I especially like the emails of what was covered in class and additional ideas.”
  • “Excellent educational value, as well as physical exercise.”

Example 8-week Syllabus:

Each week we will explore the importance of water in all aspects of nature and life.

Week–1: Water Cycle

The water cycle has been happening for millions and millions of years. We will explore the water cycle and learn how nature uses and reuses its most precious resource. Students will design their own strategies that can help conserve water at Fernbrook and at home.

Week–2: Water Pollution

One of our most devastating sources of pollution is non-point source pollution where scientists are unable to pinpoint where the culprit started. We will discuss many aspects of water pollution including non-point source, ground water contamination and other common sources. We will also brain storm on what we can do to improve our systems for monitoring and clean-up.

Week–3: Stream

We will explore the stream at Fernbrook Farms and its properties during this session of our water ecology series. By taking an inventory of the plants and animals that live in and around Bacon's Run, students will discover the importance of clean water to the flora and fauna and learn how the biotic aspects of a stream indicate the general health of the waterway.

Week–4: Pond Restoration Project

There are a few things students can do to help not only maintain the health of the pond, but make it better. Students will work on some habitat improvement in the pond to help increase the diversity of the native flora and fauna that call it home. We will plant native wetland plants to help with bank stabilization and wildlife food sources.

Week–5: Rain Garden

Huge amounts of water are lost to rain. This water can, not only be used for drinking, but irrigating fields as well. Rain Gardens are not a new trend, but are quickly becoming popular in households with space to plant. Students will help plan and plant the Fernbrook Rain Garden and learn the strategies of proper placement to insure success.

Week–6: Water Survival Strategies

Without water, human's can only live for a few days. What would you do if you were stranded with no water? We will learn a few strategies for getting water from unusual sources such as plants, the ground, leaves and even the sun.

Week–7: Water and Energy

Seems contradictory, but you can get energy from water in several ways. We will introduce the concept of using water as an energy source and discuss the viability of a waterwheel at Fernbrook. Students will each design and build a small waterwheel to demonstrate.

Week–8: Field Trip, Wastewater Treatment Plant

We will take a private tour of a wastewater treatment plant to better understand the process of safely recycling the water that humans use. This tour will give us a chance to ask questions about what the biggest water concerns should be for humans and how scientists are improving the treatment process.

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