Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) will be helping to open an outdoor classroom at a non-profit charter school in Salt Lake City that aims to serve low-income families. A $20,000 MPC grant is supporting construction of the Guadalupe School’s outdoor classroom, which will provide hands-on experiences with nature that were not previously available at the school, including water features that teach scientific principles.
A recent groundbreaking ceremony launched construction of the 12,000-square-foot instructional space, which is designed to create learning opportunities that support a more robust science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. The school includes kindergarten through sixth grade and offers preschool and adult education programs. Low-income households account for 95% of the students on the campus, which is near Marathon’s Salt Lake City refinery.
“The school let us know it wanted to expand its science-based instruction but lacked the resources to develop the necessary facilities,” said MPC Salt Lake City Refinery General Manager Eric Sjunnesen. “Our assistance reflects MPC’s commitment to promote thriving communities and workforce development because it will help provide lessons for these children that could spark future interest in subjects and career fields they might never have explored.”
In explaining the need for this project, Guadalupe School representatives cited research that indicates young children are very tactical learners who benefit from real-world encounters. They also referred to studies that found children from low-income areas are less likely to have access to STEM-oriented materials and courses.
MPC’s contribution will primarily go toward building the outdoor classroom’s water instruction section where students will see levers and pumps, and learn about the concepts of flow, force and cause-and-effect. This section will also have a large topographic map of Utah that can be flooded to help teach students about Lake Bonneville and other geographical features. Additional sections of the outdoor classroom will include a garden area for lessons on plants and growing food, a section for learning about different types of soil, and areas that link art to nature and allow students to experiment with musical sounds.