Sarah Bursky, Community Planner/Rivers Manager at the National Parks Service, kindly met with me a few weeks back to discuss our SUASCO grant, a grant to help students develop as young naturalists and river/wetland stewards. Later that same day I met with Robin Stuart, Education Director of Drumlin Farms, an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary. Those two naturalists are guiding our grade-level efforts in this naturalist realm.
Now the student-work begins. All year students have been digging into the new Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering standards with a number of hands-on learning experiences as well as reading, writing, and video based learning. Now, thanks to the SUASCO grant and Drumlin Farm's head start program, students are helping wood frog tadpoles to grow in the safety of classroom tanks. The students love watching the tadpoles develop. Later we'll watch a few videos and complete some study sheets to study the frog development, habitat, and behavior more. We'll also revisit life science standards related to our river/wetlands study that remind students about the food web, producers and consumers, plant science, and river/wetlands habitats in general.
After that students will have the chance to engage in a number of river/wetlands learning efforts to boost their knowledge, and then they'll bring that new knowledge to a day-long exploration of a river/wetlands habitat where they'll do some ponding, exploring maps, testing water quality, and examining the living organisms in that habitat.
Once that day-long adventure is complete, students will venture out again to explore the Sudbury River and nearby wetlands habitat that is close to our school. As Sarah Bursky said, having a Wild and Scenic River close by is like having a national park in our backyard. On that trip, students will further explore and learn about the river/wetland habitat, and they'll also work as stewards by picking up trash along the way to keep the area clean.
Finally after students have completed all the explorations and learning, they'll then have a Junior River Naturalist Badge Ceremony where we'll celebrate all this naturalist learning. Students bring a lot of excitement to this study which will certainly fuel the efforts ahead.