Observing the Outdoors
5th and 6th graders use on-campus observations to jump-start their study of environmental systems.
By: Dave Maier  |  5/2015

RING is an exciting time of the year.  The weather changes, the leaves are blooming, animals return after our extreme winter, and the kids are begging to spend more time outside.  Luckily the fifth and sixth grade Science team is happy to oblige them.  This quarter in Science project the students are learning about Environmental Systems.  This unit enriches the students knowledge and love of Ecology by engrossing them in our local ecosystem here on the IACS property.  FullSizeRender 2.jpg

The quarter started off having the kids practice nature journaling on two levels.  

Every Wednesday the classes go outside to work on their nature journals.  This enables every student to pause and look at the ecosystem here at school.  Whether they spend thirty minutes journaling at the pond, observing the meadow behind the track, or even going on a scavenger hunt around the campus, the students are learning how to slow down and “smell the roses”.  

The students are also engaging on a seven week bird watching journal.  Each week, they get an assignment that requires them to observe birds in their natural habitats and connect their observations to the topics covered in class.  Many a student has taken this project and turned it into a hobby.  High School students still come up to share their observations during bird watching with their former teachers.    
Our campus enables us to go the extra mile with this unit.  The fifth and sixth graders have studied macro-aquatic invertebrates in our pond and used those invertebrates to determine the water quality of the pond.  Students model the local ecosystem using behavior over time graphs and connection circles.IMG_2798.JPG

Students studied the decline and rebound of the Nashua River and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Finally the students will tie up our unit with a wonderful trip canoeing on the Nashua River to study the ecology of the watershed that we live in.  

Students come to understand the wonders of the local environment and how their actions can affect the greater ecosystem that makes up our campus.  Starting with local observations and applying systems thinking skills to see greater patterns and effects, students are learning the importance of thinking globally and acting locally.   

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