Located outside the doors of the art rooms in the Harold C. Schott Middle School, the Leibold Pond is an outdoor learning space for teachers of all grade levels to expand lessons across subjects using nature as a medium. Built in 2001, renovated in 2015 and named after benefactors John and Marian Leibold, the pond is home to several native and non-native species of plants, all of which are perennials and represent diverse habitats. It was created to enhance outdoor learning and to foster a love of nature, made possible by people who value the natural world and the human connection to it.
- Students in The Summit’s Montessori School Advanced Enrichment classes are able to identify the many plants, rocks and living creatures in the pond and categorize them, such as living and non-living, animals, birds, fish, amphibians, trees, flowers and more. During day camp as part of The Summit’s Summit Exploration program, teachers and campers take daily walks to the pond as an outdoor adventure. While on their walks, campers observe the aspects that the Leibold Pond offers – various plants and animal species, types of rocks and fossils, the peaceful quiet in nature.
- Teachers are able to utilize the flora and fauna in hands-on lessons. Lower School science classes expand upon the Montessori school’s focus on sensorial development and use the pond and its surrounding greenspace to study botany and the plant life cycle. The small animals, such as tadpoles, fish, frogs, insects, lizards and turtles that live in the pond are examples of animal adaptability to their environment. Students can observe weather changes and the effects on plant and animal life.
- The Leibold Pond offers something for nearly every subject area taught in the Middle School. Religion classes use the tranquil environment to aid in meditation, journaling and reflection surrounded by God’s creations. English students find the pond to be an inspirational setting to generate words or topics while writing poetry or to read with the pond’s fountain providing calm background noise.
- The pond’s adjacent location to the Lower and Middle School buildings provide a variety of architectural and natural sketching subjects for art students. Bird feeders installed near the pond provide a place to collect data for science students learning observation and inquiry by observing birds for a project. In another project, students study the pond’s water by identifying the effects of plants, fish, nutrients, pH, dissolved oxygen ammonia and nitrates. This provides an illustration of the components of a functioning ecosystem structure based on its biotic and abiotic factors.
- Studies on weather and climate occur at a weather station near the pond. Several instruments are included at this station, such as a thermometer, anemometer, barometer, rain gauge, wind vane, hydrometer and cloud chart. These are used by students to generate forecasts. Older students build on these lessons to record data and analyze the relationship between the height of the sun with the current season during a unit on the sun-moon-Earth system. The mental and emotional health unit in health class continues mindfulness from the Lower School and is emphasized in the outdoor setting that the pond provides teachers and students.
- The many plants and animals are useful to biology classes in the Upper School as well. Teachers can reinforce their lessons by using the ecosystem of the pond and carry out laboratory experiments. Students can study organisms to break down food chains, food webs and energy pyramids, investigate the quality of the water by analyzing samples and used the pond as a vehicle to delve deeper into topics – something that could not be done without having it as a resource on campus.