Outdoor Learning Pavilion at Jackson School

The sixth-grade students at Jackson Grammar School (JGS) in Jackson, New Hampshire, were tasked with a legacy project, giving them a chance to ‘leave a legacy for future classes.”  The students all agreed that they like to work outside, so they decided on a timber-framed Outdoor Learning Pavilion.

Chris Doktor
, architect and partner at OLSON LEWIS+ Architects volunteered to work with the class to help them design the structure. He began by giving them some background and then explaining the Architectural project process. The next stage was putting pencil to paper – allowing them to utilize their math and geometry skills to come up with designs, after which they got consensus for the design to move forward to the planning stage. The proposed covered space doubles as both a venue for community events such as cookouts and as an outdoor classroom for regular classroom studies, as well as other activities such as maple sugaring and the sports festival.

The intention from the beginning was to include students throughout the various stages, from design to permitting and construction.  According to JGS sixth-grade teacher Jon Marshall, the project has been “very involved and multi-layered.”

In October 2016 the students presented their proposal for the 36 x 20ft. pavilion to the Jackson School Board. The students explained how they intended to fund and build the structure with the intention of it not costing the local taxpayer any money. The students planned to apply for an NHHEAF grant and to reach out for community support and donations.  The school board discussed various possible scenarios with the student group, ultimately voting to allow the outdoor classroom to be built on the school grounds.

The following year, the students organized a ‘wooden peg’ fundraiser. This gave supporters the opportunity to buy a wooden peg and initial it. The peg would then be used in the build process, helping to hold the structure together.

Joan Heysler, fourth / fifth grade teacher at Jackson Grammar School noted the various learnings from this project that were incorporated into the curriculum:

• Students learned about timber-framing tools of the trade. and presented them in a “museum” to parents and the younger members of the school.

• Our science unit right now is about simple machines, so students looked for which simple machines were involved in those tools to answer our essential question:  “How simple machines make the work of timer framing easier?”

• Different students in fifth and sixth grade have been involved in writing essays and presenting to various civic organizations to request grant funds.

• Some students spent an hour and a half at the post office last weekend to raise money by having people “buy” a peg to put their name on.

Fall 2018, community volunteers began framing, building and raising the structure.

Legacy Pavilion Pegging Day at Jackson Grammar School in Jackson, NH.

image: four classrooms, four trusses, and volunteers including area businesses donated skill, materials, and labor

image: volunteers and students work together to raise the frame


read more about outdoor classrooms & OUTDOOR CLASSROOM DAY >>
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Jackson Grammar School >>

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