Travis was a part of the HISD 2002 Bond Program. The decision to preserve the 1926 part of the building was made by HISD and fully supported by the community. Taft Architects designed the new Travis, and in May, 2005 we relocated to “Camp Travis” as Miner-Dedrick Construction Company began our state-of-the-art building. Students and Teachers returned to the new building in August, 2006.
Margaret Blackstone Garden
The Garden, named after the former second grade teacher that started the program, provides valuable hands-on learning in science year-round. Students have hand-on experience with nature as they plant seeds of their choosing twice a year. They nurture their seeds by weeding and watering until harvest time. Salads, soups, berry desserts and cotton cloth are products of their planting. A pond was added in 2012. The Travis gardens are the oldest school gardens in Texas.
Mary Jo Klosterman Memorial Outdoor Classroom
Our outdoor classroom is a nautilus-shaped amphitheater integrated into the garden. First installed with the hard work of parents in 1997, students and Travis staff, the outdoor classroom accommodates 5 classes and is used for cross-grade activities, speakers, drama activities and other functions. Informally, it serves as a gathering place for parents and students before and after school. We will soon add a shade-structure over the amphitheatre that will enhance the area.
Known by most as “The Dinosaur Park,” because of the unique dinosaur bone sculpture, our school park doubles as a city park, providing all access to our lovely tree-lined green space, rock wall, and unusual dinosaur play space. In addition, we have a colorful mural designed and painted by Dale Barton who is a local artist and former Travis parent. The mural was named best mural in the City by the 2003 Houston Press “Best of Houston”. In 2011, $190,000 was invested to ReSpark our Park.
The butterfly gardens were created by parent volunteers. They are situated between building wings so they are visible by first, second, and third grade classes. Observations can be made from inside classrooms as well as visits to the gardens. The butterfly gardens are used to enhance math and science learning. Maintaining the gardens has led to every area of learning – language arts and social studies, as well as math and science. Our butterfly gardens are a working ecosystem right outside the classroom windows; an ecosystem complete with producers, consumers, predators and prey. Students use the garden to study butterfly biology, plant biology and ecosystems. These subjects require research through reading books, magazines, newspaper articles and items on the Internet. Reading and research have led to the writing of expository papers, stories and poetry.
The Bird Sanctuary is located on the east side of Travis opposite the Butterfly Gardens. What was first an unutilized space is being turned into a Bird Sanctuary that can be viewed through a glass wall, creating a terrarium effect for students. Trees have been donated by different classrooms and parents. The addition of a pond will add interest to the sanctuary.
The giant chessboard was installed by Eagle Scouts and donated by the Fifth Grade Class of 2010. Though students view it as a fun thinking game, the research below shows the benefits of playing.
“Countless researchers and studies have shown over the years that chess does indeed strengthen a child’s mental clarity, fortitude, stability, and overall health. Many schools are now finding chess as an inexpensive but essential way of helping kids grow mentally. In this technologically driven world, chess helps aid in the synthesis and growth of certain areas in the brain and mind where many children can benefit as they grow older from the game”.Susan Polgar