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Manierre Elementary School Builds Outdoor Classroom

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The playground of a school on the near north side got a makeover Saturday, designed to give students a more interactive learning experience.

Natalie Cook is vice chair of the project, spending its 10th anniversary at Manierre Elementary School.

"The playground they have right now is basically just a concrete block," she said. "We're building a 900 square-foot, permeable paved area. It's going to be an outdoor classroom that has the ability to retain some of the rainwater that falls on it."

Cook said the outdoor classroom was only the beginning.

"Alongside of the green classroom, there's going to be a bioswale to collect a lot of the rainwater and then a prairie native planting area," Cook said. "They'll be able to see the plants that are in their area."

Volunteers from the Water Environment Federation and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago got to work early, digging and moving gravel over parts of the playground.

Past chair, Tim Moran, said similar events around the country have gotten rave reviews from students, and he's expecting the same here.

"They're going to be able to sit on this outdoor space, enjoy the native plantings and see the storm water infiltrations."

Moran added that he hopes students will take small steps that will help in protecting the environment.

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