The Chartiers Valley Intermediate School is fortunate to have a beautiful natural wetland on its campus. Third graders in Mr. Quinn’s science classes took three exploratory excursions in and around the wetland region to experience first-hand how nature provides unique natural habitats for wildlife and plant species.
From theory to practice, students studied the characteristics of diverse habitats around the world and locally via classroom activities, then immersed themselves into an exploratory exercise of the outdoor classroom and the wetlands. Senses were highly engaged as students shared the sights, sounds, and scents of the nature area.
The first excursion focused on how plant life was regenerating new blooms and leaf structures after a long, cold winter. Successive field explorations focused on how the natural habitat provided so many life-sustaining elements for both plants and animals. The dormant plant-life was now reviving and filling the area with greenery and food for the inhabitants of the watery domain.
Students noticed and shared the sight and sound of fresh water flowing out of the natural spring above the wetland area, cascading slowly to the cattails below. The chirping patterns of robins, cardinals, sparrows and other birds communicating as they flew through the surrounding brush, trees, and vegetation validated the fact a diverse community can share resources. Water striders moving along the top of the ponding water, the faint sound of a frog deeper in the wetland, a chipmunk hopping along the edge of the water, the buzzing of bees (our powerful pollinators) as they travelled from blossom to blossom, butterflies gracefully fluttering from flower to flower, and the spotting of several deer prints had the students excited about how nature provides for so many species. Students commented how nice the many blossoms smelled and seemed to make the air fresh to breathe.
Integrated studies focused on the valuable natural resources such as clean water and healthy trees, both deciduous and conifers alike, providing shade, shelter, and food for animals of all sizes. Trees that were planted by Mr. Quinn’s class of 2007 for our campus were cared for by current students by watering using recyclable plastic cartons; an act of long-term environmental stewardship.
“Our third graders learned a lot about the environment and how a diverse ecological community can care for itself and its inhabitants," Mr. Quinn said. "The students enjoyed the outdoor opportunity and the first-hand senses-based experience. The stewardship they developed is a positive character trait that can last a lifetime; like it did for Rachel Carson.”
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