Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Education’

How to Win a Paddle and Save the World at the Same Time

March 5th, 2013

By Leandra Darden, Naturalist Associate, Alice Ferguson Foundation

As one of the newest members of the Alice Ferguson Foundation I had the privilege of attending my first Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (MAEOE) conference with other members of the Alice Ferguson Foundation family. At the conference we were able to meet with our peers and learn about all of the exciting things that other Maryland educators and schools have been able to offer students in the last year. The Alice Ferguson Foundation was no exception, sharing with our peers our exciting Trash Free Schools program that helps guide schools to being more environmentally conscience as well as premiering our ideas for integrating education with the building of our new living buildings. We were excited to get some feedback as to the best way to get the students to understand and talk about energy and water consumption as they monitor their water and energy throughout their overnight trip to our farm. We were able to converse with people who have a better understanding of other green buildings as well as people who have great ideas about how to visually stimulate students into conversations and understanding. It was a great opportunity to learn from and share our ideas with our fellow outdoor educators.

But the MAEOE conference also gave us the opportunity to win the coveted canoe paddle.

Every MAEOE conference there is a challenge and this year it was to make an outfit made out of trash. People then voted on their favorite outfit and the winners became one the proud owners of a ceremonial, decorative canoe paddle. It was decided to bring the amazing poncho and bag made out of Capri Sun wrappers, since it is so colorful and fun. There was some tough competition, including a skirt made out entirely of cds, and dress made out of dog food bags. In the end, the fun Capri Sun colors, combined with our clever campaign of its functionality won out and we joined the illustrious few who have been able to call the paddle their own. By creating these garments we were able to keep some trash out of the landfill and reuse for a fun new purpose.

There are always new and exciting ways to reuse what we would normally perceive as trash. With a little repurposing, vision, and creativity something we were going to throw away could now be something we are going to give away. That is one way we can all save the world.

Getting the Most Out of a Field Study to Hard Bargain Farm

January 9th, 2013

By Becky Williams

In my role as Naturalist/Educator for Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, I look forward to my visits to school classrooms both before and after the students come to the Farm for a two day field study.

As I arrive at the school office, I hear, “the lady is here from the Farm” or “the kids are really excited about coming to the Farm!”   I am often carrying a large bag of “trash” for the Trash Timeline activity in which we discuss how long it takes for common items of “trash” to decompose.  The activity helps introduce students to concepts they will learn at the farm, including decomposition and the energy cycle.  The activity also prepares students for their challenge to bring a Trash Free Lunch on their trip; often, this concept is new to the students, yet they embrace the challenge.

As I begin to learn what the students already know and what they need to know for their trip, I am struck by their excitement and willingness to explore a new setting, gather eggs, hike for 2 hours and have a campfire.  Often I work with the groups at the farm and am able to reflect back on the previsit, as we share these experiences.

When I return for the post visit after their field study, I am able to reinforce what they’ve learned through our Food Chain/Energy Cycle activity that expands their interest in concepts learned at the Farm. This lesson develops a feeling of empowerment and responsibility in their roles in their environment.

As a former teacher, I believe these classroom visits (before and after the field study) both augment and reinforce the learning and teaching potential of the field study.  I encourage teachers to take advantage of these outreach opportunities!

For more information and how you can participate in Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center Outreach please contact Sara Campbell at [email protected].

Activities for Transfer of Science Knowledge

October 5th, 2012

Guest post by J. Ryan Thompson, Primary Science Teacher, Berry Elementary School

This is my first year working with Kindergarten students, and I am having a wonderful time with them. I encourage you to perform some simple activities with your children to reinforce the content and skills we are using in science class. Many of these suggestions can be part of your daily life. Using what is learned in school outside of the classroom helps students retain that knowledge. This is called transfer and can be beneficial in developing skills for use later in education and the workforce. Enjoy!

Activities for Transfer of Science Knowledge

  1. Go for a walk. Talk about the organisms, or living things, you see in the natural world around you. Do you see or notice evidence of any animals? What kinds of plants are around you? Discuss animal and plant parts and how they help the plant or animal live.
  2. Observe an ant colony in your backyard. Place pieces of food nearby and observe the ants’ behavior once the food is discovered.
  3. Look for spiders in and around your house. Discuss the appearance of the web. If you’re lucky, you might see a spider busy at work building a web or wrapping up prey.
  4. Encourage students with questions to look for information in books, videos and online sources. We have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Help children to choose reliable online sources (.edu, .gov) over sources that can be edited by anyone. Wikipedia is very useful, but pay attention to the sources provided at the end of an article to ensure validity.
  5. Visit a local waterway, such as a pond, creek or river. Discuss, observe and draw some of the animals and plants you see in these habitats.