Campus Trail Connects Students with Environment and the Larger World

Woodstock Day School (WDS) students are tackling the problems of a warming planet. They’re acquiring the technological skills and the drive to innovate and produce creative solutions, thanks to a recently awarded STEM challenge grant.

The nursery-grade 12 students are excited about the opportunity to make a difference. In collaboration with a local non-profit, the school is developing a phenology trail across their winding, multi-acre campus. It will enable them to mark and track the impact of climate on New York State-designated plants and pollinators.

Among other activities, eighth graders in Earth Science classes work with second and third graders to identify the plants, label the trail, and regularly update a national database with the markers they find. Upper School Biology and Statistics classes are partnering to collect, share, and analyze the trail’s data.

Such projects “promote stewardship in our older students and refine observation skills in our youngest,” says Earth Science teacher Marie Daniels. Their research is also fostering satisfying, long-term relationships between the students and the plants and animals that live around them.

“They’re learning about biological interrelationships in their local ecosystems, classic and creative statistical analysis, and developing questions about climate change and WDS species variations that can set the stage for long-term ecological research at our school,” says Upper School Division Head Matthew Essery.

WDS is making the trail available for use by local public schools and universities, as well as scientists visiting the region. “Collecting this local data and sharing it with climate researchers is an excellent way to connect our students to their immediate environment and the larger world,” says Ms. Daniels.

Does your school do something similar?

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