Yellow Springs students preparing for 'Into the Wild’ trip

Seventh-graders at McKinney Middle School in Yellow Springs are gearing up for a three-day adventure on bicycles, a project-based learning event that will incorporate all the food groups for the developing mind and body: Math, science, social studies, language arts and physical education.

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About 20 students met with teachers and community members after school today to set out on one of four training rides scheduled ahead of the main event later this fall: "Into the Wild: Learning on the Land." 

Teachers and members from the community will lead the students along the bike trail going south and will stay overnight in the Morrow area. Students will camp for the night and the next day they go canoeing and learn about the health of the river, in-part by turning over rocks and counting macro-invertebrates.

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Along the way the students will learn math by proportioning and planning meals. They’ll make a stop at Ft. Ancient to learn about the local history and culture of American Indians. The students will also participate in a writing workshop.

On the third and final day, the students ride all the way to Loveland where they will meet their parents and caregivers for lunch before taking a bus back home. 

This is the second year for the trip and it’s being paid for through grants that the teachers applied for and received. 

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Kate Lohmeyer, physical education and health teacher at McKinney, is in charge of this year's ride and getting the students prepared. 

"I have never seen student engagement on this level," said Lohmeyer, an advocate of project-based learning who has been teaching for 14 years. "It was not only inspiring to the teachers, it was amazingly rewarding for these students to be able to do this." 

The project has drawn support from the community. Businesses, such as Black Pug Bike Repair and Village Cyclery, have donated equipment and services. People from the community who are avid cyclists, such as Dan Carrigan, accompany the students on the rides. 

Carrigan has been doing bicycle education for 10 years. Providing that guidance to the students, he considers a "great opportunity." 

"[Last year's event] was a blast," Carrigan said. "The kids get to know each other a little more when you're riding together … It's just a great experience. It's sort of like Boy Scouting but much more structured." 

Three more training rides are scheduled to happen at 4 p.m. on Thursdays.

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