Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Discover Nature Schools

We just spent an invigorating morning at Valley Water Mill Park with the fifth grade class from York Elementary, leading a Discover Nature Schools field trip.  Leading may be misleading as much of the time was spent trying to catch up to the lead student.  The excitement of discovering nature can be uncontainable.

Mort- a garter snake makes new friends
Mort Shurtz and Matt Boehner led another group and had the find of the day, a garter snake which will probably be psychologically scarred for life by the experience of being petted by so many kids.  Other highlights included centipedes, beaver holes, fungi and lots of bugs.

Discover Nature Schools  is a curriculum designed by the Missouri Department of Conservation to bring the understanding of nature and its ecosystems to students from 3rd grade to high school.  Our emphasis with 5th graders includes specialized structures (thorns, stingers, wings etc.) and discovering the relationships of plants and animals in an ecosystem.  Teachers educate the students in the class room and our role is to reinforce this with hands on experience.

One of the neat things about these field trips is how much it forces us to think about the associations.  Nothing like the third in a string of "whys" to get you to thinking, especially when you are expected to know the answers!

For more information, see Francis Skalicky's Springfield News-Leader article.

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