OBX - Out of the Box
Experiential Education

Every Friday during fourth quarter, all GWCS freshmen and sophomores participate in an experiential learning program we call OBX.  While the juniors and seniors are off-campus for their internships, freshmen and sophomores are off-campus for collaborative and experiential learning activities.  Below are brief summaries and photos of  the 2015-2016 OBX events.

#1 Paper Roller Coaster Contest

FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2016

In our first OBX of the year, we stayed inside and geeked out with a roller coaster contest! Students worked in teams to build the best marble run from card stock, using templates from http://paperrollercoasters.com/gallery.htm   Teams worked hard all day creating and constructing, and presented their work at the end of the day.  Prizes were awarded in the form of gift cards to Peets.  ~ Dr. Cox

#2 Coyote Day

FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2016

Coyote Day 2016 challenged our community to stop for a moment and consider what it feels like to be chosen.  Our coyotes are smart, adaptable, kind and good and they evinced those qualities as they chose and created totems, noshed on a catered lunch from Cafe Rio, and performed team challenges.  It was a wonderful day of celebrating our Coyote Pride!  ~ Ms. Warden

#3 Team Building at Hemlock Regional Park

Friday, May 13, 2016

A day of team building at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park: The day started out damp but our spirits were high and we were not disappointed. Our two instructors broke the students up into two groups and we jumped right in. The students were tasked with forming a map of the world based on a place they would or have visited, with the caveat the students couldn’t talk. This was a great intro to the day and was followed up with a rope challenge, swinging across a mud pit. From there we negotiated a tight rope and zip line challenge in which the students had a fun time encouraging each other and a great sense of pride completing the zip line. The day ended with both groups coming together, sharing what they have learned before the final challenge was introduced, the wall challenge. This final challenge incorporated all the skills the students had encountered that day and was a fantastic end to a tough but rewarding day.  ~Mr. Fedinatz

#4A Sci-Tech: Wildlife Forensics DNA

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

Part A... We traveled to the Inner Harbor of Baltimore to partake in an exciting, state of the art lab run by Towson University Center for STEM Excellence. Illegal harvesting of fins from sharks is an ongoing practice that threatens several species each year. Hundreds of sharks wind up in our country illegally as the demand for delicacies like shark fin soup continuously rise. Individuals who choose to smuggle in endangered species, such as the Great White Shark (think “Jaws”) face serious consequences. So how do we know for sure if a species is endangered when all shark fins look the same? Students got to answer that very question by using high tech DNA extraction techniques and running samples of real shark fin samples against a Great White Shark sample. Through gel electrophoresis, the group was able to see first-hand that their shark fin was, indeed, was endangered. After all that scientific excitement, we had just enough time to enjoy a breezy stroll around the inner harbor and enjoy ice cream as a reward for all that crime fighting.  ~ Ms. Newton

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FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

Part B:  We also had an amazingly experiential day at the Maryland Science Center. This museum has the most interactive and engaging displays in the area. Not only do the students learn about science but they get to be part of it. With exhibits ranging from interactive black-holes to the noises of food digestion, there is something for everyone. This was my second time at the Maryland Science Center and I would gladly go back for thirds. ~ Mr. Connelly

#5 Pound Per Pound: Understanding the Nutrition Needs of Exotic Animals at the Reston Zoo

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016

Roer’s Zoofari in Reston, Virginia features both exotic and domestic animals in a suburban setting. Students were able to get up close and personal (perhaps a little too up close and personal for some) with African Cattle, Bison, Zebras, goats, rabbits, and budgies. While hanging out with the animals, the group learned how important animals were to the civil war (moving cannons, etc), how to calculate the cost of feed, evaluate the enclosures, create their own habitat, and, of course, feed the animals! The trip provided a unique look into how a small scale zoo is managed and what it takes to care for a variety of species. The catered lunch from Chick-fil-a didn’t hurt, either. ~ Ms. Newton

#6 Fountainhead Canoe Trip and Naturalist Tour

FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2016

GWCS students had a true team building experience as they synchronized their kayak efforts in such a way as not to go round and round in circles on the Occoquan Reservoir at Fountainhead Regional Park.  We were accompanied by a Naturalist who paddled around with us to educate our group on all of the natural wonders of the area.  After a picnic lunch we decided that the weather was not ideal for the hike we had planned so, we spontaneously took a detour to The Workhouse Art Center located at the old Lorton prison where we were able to view the local artists' studios and creations as well as learn a little history about the old prison.  

#7 Campus Tour at University of Mary Washington

FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016

On a beautiful sunny spring day, GWCS drove down to Fredericksburg to visit the University of Mary Washington, one of Virginia's premier public universities, to attend an informational session and take a tour. Highlights included a tour of the dorms, classrooms, and multimedia Convergence Center, plus lunch at the cafeteria and a photographic scavenger hunt.