Nottingham’s Exploration Courtyard

Experiment Area – Physical Science


An area for the study of various physical sciences.

Features include:

  • Demonstration area for simple machines and physical principals, i.e., slopes, gears, reflected light, prisms and absorbed energy
  • Renewable energy concepts such as solar panel display and wind-power generation with energy storage capacity (batteries)
  • Grid system on ground and pathways illustrating shapes, area and perimeter
  • Model of Earth with tilted axis
  • Sound experiment, with wind chimes
  • Weather observation area with rain gauge, thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer
  • Cistern for collecting rainwater, water wheels, locks, hydrodynamic concepts, including buoyancy and displacement
  • Sundial

Natural Habitat Area


A natural environment that students can observe and study. It includes a small ecosystem composed of native plants and animals of Northern Virginia, and a planting area designed to illustrate the natural cycle of the seasons, natural deviations of weather and promote an understanding of ecological responsibility and awareness.

Features include:

  • Pond with waterfall for wildlife habitat (i.e., tadpoles, fish and frogs)
  • Planting areas with potting station.Planting boxes for harvesting seeds and cold frame
  • Bird/Bat houses and nesting areas
  • Butterfly garden
  • Deciduous and coniferous trees
  • Benches for quiet reading and observation

 Teaching Pavilion – Lecture/Gathering Area

A multipurpose area for outdoor lectures, crafts, story time, class picnics, Rainbow Pals, Girl/Boy Scouts, etc. including:

  • Covered area with central table and benches and movable log stools to accommodate 25 students.
  • Area for teacher with table and whiteboard.
  • Totem pole carved with characters from children’s books (carved into a tree cut down from the school property for the renovation).
  • Storage area and cabinets for experiment components and observational equipment such as thermometers, magnifying glasses, magnets, tape measures, compasses, measuring cups, nets, battery boxes, hoses, fountain pump, shovels, buckets, etc.