During an earth field study at Outdoor School, St. Matthew sixth grader Luke McClellan learns about chemical and physical weathering by studying soil samples. (Courtesy St. Matthew School)
During an earth field study at Outdoor School, St. Matthew sixth grader Luke McClellan learns about chemical and physical weathering by studying soil samples. (Courtesy St. Matthew School)

HILLSBORO — This fall, sixth graders from St. Matthew School here ventured to the coast to Camp Magruder for a week of Outdoor School.

During their four-day stay, the children participated in a variety of interactive field studies designed to help them learn about different ecosystems, including forest, ocean, freshwater lake, marsh and ocean tide pools. Their studies included a squid dissection, in which they learned about organs and biological systems.

Sponsored by the Multnomah Educational Services Department, Outdoor School provides an opportunity for students across Oregon to learn in the outdoors. It is available to all sixth grade students enrolled in Multnomah County and the surrounding region. The kids take part in hands-on activities, which are taught mostly in small groups.

Alexia Hamilton, St. Matthew middle school teacher, escorted the sixth graders to camp and served as a chaperone for the week. “I really enjoyed watching them dissect the squids,” said Hamilton. “This was our first field study, and it was nice to see the students warm up to a new experience. I also enjoyed getting to know the sixth graders; I really tried to talk to each of them individually over the week.”

St. Matthew staff said they are proud to offer students this experience at no additional cost to families, thanks to schoolwide fundraising efforts throughout the academic year. Through this annual middle school tradition, St. Matthew works to promote scientific curiosity, appreciation for nature and responsibility for the environment.