CPS Students Excel at Map Navigation

orienteering.jpgMany Cambridge Public School students in 5th through 8th grade have been learning a new sport, Orienteering. In orienteering, competitors navigate with a map and compass to find checkpoints, called controls, in the woods. In September, the fifth-graders in Ms. Bishop’s class had never heard of orienteering. Yet after three weeks of learning about map-reading, route-planning, and navigation, the Morse students competed at the United States orienteering championships held in Boston’s Franklin Park on October 21st, 2011. At the championship, several of them won medals for their exceptional orienteering skills. A highlight of their preparation was a visit from U.S. team member Eric Bone, who talked about training and competing for our country.

Graham and Parks also has an orienteering program. This year, Graham and Parks’ fifth grade classes navigated to Fresh Pond, visiting checkpoints along the way. At Fresh Pond, they solved a puzzle using an official orienteering map provided by the Cambridge Sports Union. In October, the Graham and Parks junior high went to the Middlesex Fells for their 6th annual day of orienteering. In classroom sessions prior to the field trip, teams planned routes and agreed on how to work together. By the time they got to the woods, even though many had no experience in the forest, the teams were able to navigate successfully to their controls. Three former students and many parent volunteers handled the complex organizing that helped make the trip a success.

Orienteering is a great way to build community, have fun, and learn! Some quotes from the students:

orienteering2.png“My high point today was when we all got really excited and happy when we found a control. It reminded me that we all were working together. And that we were all a part of this experience.”

“It was good that we got lost. We were able to all get out of it together. We also took turns holding the maps. We were so into it we didn’t even stop for lunch.”

“After about 200 meters of thorns, and 70 meters of climbing a rocky hill, we stopped at an open area. While taking a break to drink, I turned and saw an amazing view. In front of me, there was a great view of Boston. I could see all of the buildings and the skyline, and basically all of the city. It was awesome to literally see how rewarding this trip was.”

“We really developed as a good working team.”

“My experience on this trip was so perfect and amazing that the low point probably was when the trip ended!”

“I yelled ‘I found it!’ as I ran through the thorns and sticks, until I reached up and pulled the control down out of the tree. I walked back holding it high. I felt like I was actually important to the team.”

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