Hands on discovery and exploration have been integral to Canterbury School’s curriculum since its beginning more than three decades ago. For the past few years, an educational partnership with the Little River Wetlands Project at Eagle Marsh has taken discovery and exploration to a whole new level for Middle Schoolers (grades 5-8).
Students go on several visits in the fall and then again in the spring to Eagle Marsh to learn about the wetlands and to do field studies of plants and animals.
We are excited about the opportunities this educational partnership poses for the teachers and students as well as the benefit to Eagle Marsh itself. It is an exciting time for both the students AND teachers, as they have been able to make science so much more personal.
Located close to the school, it is the perfect outdoor learning laboratory for students to explore, do fieldwork, and ask open-ended questions that lead to real-world problem-solving.
This is not just a field trip for the students to visit Eagle Marsh. We have three goals for the program:
- Actively participate in the restoration of the wetlands.
- Incorporate hands-on scientific activity related to Canterbury’s science curriculum for each grade level.
- Pursue answers and solutions to scientific questions and/or problems related to the wetlands.
While we are dedicated to all three goals, the idea of having students work on a question or problem for a long period of time is very intriguing. There is an opportunity for each fifth-grader to work on a question or problem for the four years of Middle School. We hope this sparks a lifelong career path - developing experts in the field. Betsy Yankowiak, LRWP director of preserves and programs, agrees. “When children are out in nature, it opens their minds. When you look into their eyes, you see the wheels spinning for problem solving. I hope all children can have that quality of learning experience.”
At visits in November, students in grades 5-6 began planning science projects, such as experiments in which different teams develop and test various ways to try to out compete Canada thistle in small plots of the marsh.
The first year of the program science teachers put together mobile science labs for the students to use on their visits. These mobile labs include digital cameras for students to gather photo/video data. We have four LabQuest devices available for use in the field. Examples of other experiments include taking water samples to test for quality and soil samples to test for temperature. All data is shared with the LRWP staff.
All students participate in service activities such as removing thistle, gathering and scattering seeds and growing and nursing plants at home or in the school’s greenhouse, and then planting them in the wetlands in spring.
About Little River Wetlands Project
Little River Wetlands Project is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit land trust whose mission is to restore and protect wetlands in the Little River valley that stretches from Fort Wayne to Huntington, and to provide educational opportunities that encourage individuals to be good stewards of wetlands and other natural ecosystems .LRWP currently protects 1,164 natural acres, including 716-acre Eagle Marsh, 255 acres at the Arrowhead preserves, 53 scres at the Little River Landing in Huntington, and a conservation easement on 140 acres of private land. Wetlands enhance flood control, cleanse groundwater, and provide wildlife habitat as well as opportunities for nature recreation and education for local communities. LRWP's free nature education programs serve thousands of children and adults every year. For more information, please contact Betsy Yankowiak at 260-478-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.