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Exploring Junior Year

“I’ve been thinking about seeing.  There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises.  The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand.  But – and this is the point – who gets excited by a mere penny? …but if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.  It is that simple. What you see is what you get.”
– Annie Dillard

Fall: The Pond Profile


The pond profile is a month-long biological and social investigation of a local pond. Student teams sample ponds in Eagan for water quality, vegetation, and fish/macroinvertebrates which all give insight into the health of the pond. They analyze and write their data into a report that is presented to the City of Eagan.

Winter: Human and Animal Adaptations

Students creating an Ojibwe Snow Snake snow sculpture

Through study of organisms' adaptations to winter along with historic and current human adaptations to the cold--and by going outside in winter firsthand, students come to understand core principles of survival in our northern climate. This unit has culminated in an overnight experience at Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement, staying in a wood-fire heated cabin, and cooking a meal over the fire. 

Spring: Deciduous Forest - Our Own Biome!

4th grade students on junior's  teaching day

All juniors investigate our local forest biome outside our doors and consider their own relationship with the natural world in a personal "ethic." In past years, District 196 4th graders have visited to learn from the juniors in small groups--so juniors create lesson plans, invent games, and find ways to bring the outdoors to life. We plan to inspire and be inspired in our understanding of the spring season around us.