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Seahawk Educational & Environmental Discovery

Michelle Powell



ABSTRACT

The one hour environmental program titled, "What's in Your Backyard?" is an environmental mentor program developed for primary/elementary students. The program is also offered as a community outreach program for interested groups. The goal is to team high school environmental student mentors with younger children to teach an environmental discovery program (HS students remember more from what they teach!) Another broad goal is to reach a wider range of students to instill an appreciation for the world of nature and conservation.

OBJECTIVES

  • Identify and describe local poisonous plants/animals
  • Compare characteristics of three local ecosystems (pond, wetland, forest)
  • Describe common plants from different ecosytems; comparing, shapes,colors,textures and measuring sizes

TYPE OF ACTIVITY

This is an active learning activity that requires time for high school students to research and develop a program based on a teacher model. It incorporates cooperative learning skills as students interact as a team to plan their program. Also required for this activity is a nature trail access close to school . My students were able to conduct 2 programs per week during a block schedule. Teachers from the near-by primary and elementary schools signed up in advance to bring their students over to the high school for our program.

The environmental mentor program may also be a community outreach program for garden clubs, boy scouts and girl scout troops after school.

TARGET AUDIENCE:

  • Environmental Science Classes
  • Biology Classes
  • Primary/Elementary Students Grades K-5

STRATEGIES

High school environmental science students developed a discovery type program involving a combination of scavenger hunt type techniques and questioning. Extensive preparation was involved in preparing the program. Drawings were made of "discoveries" along the trail to encourage students observation skills. Primary students were able to "discover" local plants and compare basic traits (shapes, textures, odor) while learning about plants found in their "backyard."

Another part of the "What's in Your Backyard?" program is the exploration of three different ecosystems. As the high school students conduct the program through the nature trail, elementary students are asked to find comparisons and differences between woody or herbaceous plants, bark textures,ferns, fruits,pine cones and animal habitats. Younger students discover information about the three different ecosystems through their nature trail walk.

MATERIALS

  • "Discovery" drawings made by HS students
  • Handouts for program participant teachers including:
    1. Introduction/Preparation handout
    2. Vocabulary list
    3. Suggested study questions for pond communitry
    4. Sign-up sheet

WHAT'S IN YOUR BACKYARD?

INTRODUCTION

A variety of plants (poisonous, non-poisonous, ferns, shrubs, trees) will be introduced to your class by discovery methods. Also, your class will be exploring three different ecosystems (pond, wetland and pine forest.)

OBJECTIVES:

After completing the program, students will be able to:
  1. Identify and describe local poisonous plant/animals
  2. Compare characteristics of three local ecosystems (pond, wetland, forest)
  3. Describe common plants from different ecosystems; comparing shapes,colors, textures, and measuring sizes

PREPARATION:

  1. Students must wear old shoes, socks and long pants.
  2. Insect repellant (if desired)
  3. Students need to be told NOT to pick any plants!
  4. Nametags on each student are required.
  5. No pencils, paper, etc. required (we will provide a ruler)

TEACHER NOTES:

  1. Approximate walking time to outdoor classroom (10-15 min.)
  2. Class should arrive at 10:15. Program will last one hour.
  3. Attached is vocabulary list and study questions, if wish to use.
  4. In the case of inclement weather, the program will be cancelled.

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Take photos of trip and have students write a book.
  2. Make a vivarium for the classroom and discuss ecosystems.
  3. Press leaves or flowers to make notecards or bookmarks.
  4. Visit another nature trail to compare or visit during different seasons.

EVALUATION:

Teachers and students attending the program are asked to make an evaluation including all aspects. These are shared with the high school students each week to make any necessary improvements and provide the best program possible.

The high school students are given an individual evaluation for each program they participate in. The evaluation criteria is based on their presentation, student manner, proper dress and participation. Each program counted as a daily grade and was a part of total evaluation for course which included: research, projects, letters to the editor, community projects,maintenance of nature trail system,daily participation, class presentations and chapter tests.


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