Our third graders have been studying the importance of the wetlands on the Crocker Conservancy. Students put on their muck boots and waded into the wetlands to discover which plants and insects were thriving in our calcareous muck fen. Students measured the temperature, pH, and levels of dissolved oxygen in the stream bordering the wetland as well.
After two weeks of collecting data, students felt ready for our wetlands field day, an event planned as the culmination of the study. Brent Barriteau from NRCS taught us about the distinct wetland soils and water-loving plants, while Mrs. Gilpin and Mrs. Slavin led an effort to find critters in the stream. Many snails and water striders later, students were lucky enough to catch and identify a little sculpin. Despite the drop in temperature, it was an inspiring day in the wetlands, and students left with a deeper sense of understanding and appreciation of this unique habitat.
Here at Powhatan, we use an approach called NEAL (Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning). NEAL is a lens through which we can teach any or all components of our curriculum. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. An authentic experience like the Wetlands Field Day elevates the learning environment with a hands-on approach to applying their studies to the real world.