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The Path to Knowledge


The Path to Knowledge

By Suzanne Molina, Grade 6 English Teacher

Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro

Via Sapientia means “The Path to Knowledge” and to middle schoolers at Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro it also means a wonderful week of a school without walls where students study in a more interactive way outside of the classroom.  In the month of November, the entire Middle School takes their respective Via Sapientia trips during the same week.

The 6th grade trip is always a memorable one for students because of the rich experiences they have while in Paraty.   There, students study the preservation of culture and the environment.  The 7th grade students visit the cities of Mariana, Ouro Preto and Tiradentes in Minas Gerais.  The state is an exemplary region to study geology and the historical events of the Brazilian gold rush.   The 8th grade travels to Vassouras in the state of Rio de Janeiro to learn about slavery and coffee plantations during colonial times.

These kinds of experiences foster lifelong learning as students consider many facets of life.  Students gather information about each area helping them develop a greater awareness of Brazil’s history and its rich cultural diversity.   In addition, it is an opportunity for students to make new friends and build relationships with teachers in a completely different setting.

 A Trip to Colonial Brazil

By Jose Villasmil

Taking students outdoors helps them learn in an easier way which impacts their knowledge.  All the Middle School grades went to different places for the Via Sapientia trip.  The purpose of the trip is for students to study in a different environment, as if it was a school without walls.  The 6th grade went to Paraty to study about preservation of culture and the environment.  The 7th grade went to Minas Gerais, and their main focus was the Gold Rush.  And finally, the 8th grade went to Vassouras and studied about Ecology and Colonial Brazil.

The 8th grade class went to a hotel in Vassouras called Vassouras Eco Resort, where they spent five days.  During the time spent there, they got to know the hotel and during their free time they could do things such as going to the pool, playing soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Compared to the other grades’ hotels, the 8th grade students thought that this was the best one they ever had on the Via Sapientia trips.

During the trip the students had to do a lot of activities related to history and science.  Most of the activities were done in the hotel, but there were two activities where they had to go out.  In one of the activities they went to the city Vassouras to learn about its history, and they also went to Fazenda Florença to learn about slavery and coffee plantations.  In the hotel, students learned about water treatment, organic farming and they went to a waterfall to collect information and take pictures for their documentary.

The school is doing a program called Character Counts with the purpose of making the students become more fair, respectful, responsible, trustworthy, caring and better citizens.  In the 8th grade trip, the students were expected to find a quote related to the six different pillars of Character Counts and then they had to take a picture illustrating it.

The trip was a good way for the students to interact more with each other, with the teachers and to do some hands on activities.  Learning outside of school in a different environment is a great experience for the students.  And it was also a better way for them to understand the importance of Character Counts and be able to apply it into their lives.

 Discovering the Gold Rush

By Pedro Barreto

‘‘The only path to knowledge is activity” – George Bernard Shaw

“The Path of Knowledge” is a sentence that is used a lot here at Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro, but we have a different name for it.  We call it Via Sapientia.  Via Sapientia is a program that EARJ offers the Middle School students to learn about Brazilian history and culture in the place where it all happened.  The 6th graders travel to Paraty to learn about the preservation of culture and the environment, the 7th graders go to Minas Gerais to learn about slavery and the gold rush, and the 8th graders traveled to Vassouras to learn about colonial times and what happened with slavery and the plantation of coffee.

The gold rush was a big part of colonial Brazil.  Can you imagine learning all about it while you are in the place it all happened?  Well, the 7th graders from EARJ got the chance to visit the cities of Tiradentes, Mariana, and Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, one of the most important places of Brazilian history.

The first two nights we slept in Tiradentes.  On the first day we arrived in Tiradentes at 15:30 and we visited the first part of downtown Tiradentes which included two churches, one of the them being the Matriz de Santo Antonio.  The second day we visited the church called Nossa Senhora do Rosario and the second part of downtown Tiradentes.

The third day we visited Ouro Preto and there we visited the Sao Francisco de Assis church, the mineral museum and the museum of the Inconfidencia Mineira and that night we slept in Mariana.  On the fourth day we went to Congonhas to visit  the six chapels and Aleijadinho’s church called Igreja dos Profetas.

“What a great first Via Sapientia!  I can’t wait for next year,” I thought to myself as we arrived in Rio.  It really is a great experience that I think every school should have something similar to in their curriculum.

 Cultural and Environmental Preservation

By Diana Lorch

Via Sapientia means road of knowledge, and to middle schoolers at Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro, it also means a wonderful class trip. EARJ has Via Sapientia so that students can learn about science and social studies by doing hands-on activities making it more fun to learn.  Kids on the trip also learn about character as well as having a good time with friends. 6th grade students went to Paraty, 7th grade to Minas Gerais, and 8th grade to Vassouras.  It is a trip that happens every year.  EARJ students love the trips and get to enjoy going to a new place with their friends for three years.

Paraty is the perfect place for a school trip because lots of students have never been there and the ones who have will always enjoy going a second time.  This year everyone in 6th grade went on the trip and it was wonderful!  Students and teachers stayed in the hotel Villa Del Sol, a great hotel with good rooms, a pool and great food.  Most 6th graders on the trip roomed with two other kids of the same gender.  The day that the 6th graders arrived in Paraty they went on a walk to learn about how life was like when the city was first built.

For the first two full days, students were divided into two large groups.  The students went to Picinguaba State Park while the other group went to Quilombo do Campinho and Forte Defensor Perpétuo.  At the park students went on a nature hike to a muddy mangrove with lots of crabs and then swam around to a beach.  Students learned how quicksand felt by stepping in some themselves.   At the Quilombo children learned how to do the Jongo dance and about basket-weaving, as well as the story of the people who started the Quilombo.

The next full day was boat day.  Students got to swim around, study about marine life and go on a treasure hunt.  On the last day students went shopping for souvenirs and had lunch.  Then, students got on the bus to go home and see their family members.  The trip to Paraty was a good balance of educational learning and fun with friends and nature.

Paraty is a wonderful place that is perfect for a school trip.   A week of fun, friendship, and learning was what the trip was for many 6th graders from Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro.  6th graders loved learning about the preservation of culture and the environment, which was the topic of the 6th grade trip.  Students loved going to Paraty and overall it was a wonderful experience for all 6th graders.

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