Friday, July 31, 2015

Crafting Naturalist Grant and Study: Part Two

It's vacation, but I know what happens if I don't capture the ideas right away. Life gets busy and the good ideas and information are lost.

So, I'll take a few moments to draft important factors about our upcoming collaboration with Drumlin Farm.

Yesterday Robin Stuart, Drumlin Farm's Education Director, and I sat down to discuss the grant proposal I'll draft for the local funding source, WPSF.

We're hoping to include the following components in the grant:

Naturalist Leader Training
Robin would come to school to lead a group of volunteers possibly including a mix of family members, high school students, college interns, teachers, and community members. Those naturalist leaders would lead small groups of students into our selected nature spaces.

Nature Spaces and Outdoor Exploration
We'll study on the playground, in a plot of land near the playground, possibly a wetlands area about a 1/2 mile from school, and at Great Meadows in Concord. I want to contact the local conservation department soon to access maps and discuss our local land plots to find out further information. Our work in the nature spaces will involve a host of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities as well as State standards in math, technology and science.

Protecting Endangered Species - Endangered Frogs
Drumlin Farm works with Brian Windmiller at Grassroots Wildlife Conservation with regard to the reintroduction of native species. We could participate in this work by raising native frogs in our classroom, collecting and reporting data on the process, and then releasing the frogs into their native habitat. Windmills and Drumlin Farm naturalists would visit the classroom to get us started. We would host one or two large aquariums to watch the tadpoles grow and then develop before reentry. As citizen scientists, student data would be added to the larger data pool. We could use the data work as part of our math study as well.

Robin gave me some good materials ideas. For example, at Drumlin, they make their own nets. We could do the same by buying the materials and leading students in a net making event. We'll also add viewfinders, thermometers, aquarium habitat materials such as amphibian sand, UVB/UVA  light, and more.

Study Focus
I asked Robin, "How do you inspire young naturalists?," and she responded that she focuses on developing observation skills, the ability to craft and ask a good question, and question follow-up-what comes after asking the question, what does that process include? As noted above, we'll also focus on the data aspects of the study as part of our math work.

Tech Connect
Massachusetts Audubon is following Connecticut Audubon's lead with the use of Creek Critters. We will use this app as part of our naturalist study. I also want to try to find or make protective covers for the iPads so that students can bring them into the field to take notes, photography, and make videos.

Nyanza Grant
As part of a special river stewardship grant with Drumlin Farm, our work will also continue to focus on understanding and caring for river habitats. Some of our work, in this regard, will take place near our local river, The Sudbury River.

Science Logs and Assessments
I will work with colleagues to design good assessments and student science journals or logs to track the efforts, learning, ideas, and future actions.

To put this learning into action, we have the following steps to follow.
  • Share this work with administrators and invite ideas and considerations
  • Complete tech form to get permission to add the "Creek Critter" app to the iPads
  • Complete researching and writing the grant and pass the grant to leadership for signatures. As part of the grant, create a study/research plan for students. 
  • Review the standards and find relevant books and articles to inform the study
  • Wait to hear about grant approval
  • Upon approval, organize the study efforts and begin sometime in late October, early November.