The Schaeffer Pond

With a grant funded through High Industries and the Manheim Township Education Foundation, an on-site eco-garden and pond was created to allow teachers to make the curriculum come alive with hands-on learning for the children. The eco-pond area provides the opportunity for students to learn about what is in their backyard both figuratively and literally; build on their innate interest in nature, using dynamic, hands-on activities; and focus on the real world using learner centered, adaptive pedagogy. We can take the science experiments that we were simulating on a small scale in the classroom and put them in a real world environment for all to research. Imagine an outdoor classroom where a 40-foot eco-pond hosts a variety of plant life and aquatic pond species to be explored by curious young minds. A small group of fourth graders checks the pH level of the pond while they look for the signs of snails and frogs, which inhabit the area. The wheelchair accessible pathway around the pond provides equal access to a true outdoor classroom where environmental studies are alive and integrated with the curriculum.

The eco-garden and pond provide an outdoor living laboratory to be studied, developed, and enjoyed by the Schaeffer students and families. This environmental area provides a pocket park for teachers to capitalize on children’s innate attraction to the natural world while providing unique opportunities to combine traditional subject areas in a meaningful whole. Engaging students in real world scenarios with real world problem solving will produce successful stewards of tomorrow’s world. The creation of the Schaeffer eco-garden and pond environment promotes an innovative learning environment that becomes an educational model for transcending traditional limitations, nurtures the student’s passion for learning, and focuses on environmental stewardship in our society.

The pond is more than an outdoor classroom; it has become an integral part of the children’s experience here at Schaeffer. Children respect the area and watch with natural curiosity as ducks, dragonflies, and fish make their home here. Schaeffer parents have become involved in the care and growth of this pond area with assistance in obtaining planting plants, trees, bird feeders, and researching what plants are needed for a pond of this nature. Parents assist in cleaning the pond, creating leave barriers, and in volunteering when needed. This pond is more than just 8,000 gallons of water, it is focus point that stimulates learning and enhances the quality of our school environment.

Eco-Pond Description

  • 4,438 square feet
  • 8,000 gallon pond
  • Eco-garden will host a variety of plants to attract birds and butterflies
  • Industrial strength pond liner and bacteria filtration system
  • Walkway around pond with native Pennsylvania animal tracts stamped into the concrete
  • Waterfall with bridge (bridge designed by High Steel)
  • Students use the eco-pond as an outdoor classroom and integrate the Pennsylvania environment, ecology, and science standards into the experience.

Public School and Local Company Team Up to Create Unique Outdoor Classroom

In a first-of-its-kind partnership between a local public school, Manheim Township School District and High Industries, Inc. announce the start of construction of the “Schaeffer Environmental Area,” an eco-pond and garden located on the grounds of N. C. Schaeffer Elementary School.

The environmental area is a unique outdoor classroom and will become an important learning tool — not only for Schaeffer students, but also for school districts throughout eastern Pennsylvania.

“We want to bring environmental literacy into the reading, writing, math, social studies and science curriculum,” Aldinger stated. “With an eco-garden and pond of this size and quality, we can take learning beyond the bricks and mortar boundaries of a traditional school — and allow teachers to make the curriculum come alive and hands-on for the children.”

To realize the dream of an environmental studies area that is a model for the nation, the Manheim Township Educational Foundation turned to High Industries, one of the region’s oldest and largest employers — and a long-time supporter of projects that offer a high degree of benefit to the local community. S. Dale High, president and chairman of the board at High Industries, speaking on behalf of all members of the High family, is very pleased that the company can help bring this powerful learning resource to life.

“Part of the High Industries’ Philosophy states that we should ‘contribute to a world of beauty, prosperity and peace,’ and this exciting project does just that,” High said. “This will be a valuable, hands-on outdoor classroom that will help to build students’ interest in nature — by making the stuff of science books come alive in a real-world environment. It is the hope of the High family that this first-of-its-kind center will serve students for many generations to come – while motivating other employers to do the same kind of thing for the communities that support them,” High stated.