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Friday, March 23, 2012

Agape Field Trip

Today we took the 5th grade students to Agape for an environmental educational experience.  What a blast!  If you have never gone into the woods with a group of urban kids, you have no idea what you're missing.  They get excited about the simplest things!
Here's a brief run-down of our day and some pictures too.

On the bus ride, students pointed out deforestation taking place and we took note of tornado damage that occurred in the north part of our city last year.  Believe it or not, most of the kids hadn't seen the damage even though it is in our own city.

Within moments of arriving at Agape, we were headed into the woods and saw a lizard that got us quite excited.  During our visit, we tested the pH level of the soil and made observations about 3 different ecosystems: meadow, mixed forest, and marsh.  We took the temperature of the soil at two depths (1" and 3") as well as the temperature of the air from the ground and from 6' high.  We recorded plant life and signs of animal life.  After we finished, students were able to determine that the meadow is the most harsh of the environments while the mixed forest is the most forgiving.

In our second learning session, we discovered methods for staying alive until we are rescued if we ever become lost in a wooded area.  We built a shelter with branches and leaves and started a fire with some basic supplies.  A few brave students had a bonus learning opportunity.  While building the shelter, they found a slug.  Mir, our guide, shared that the slime from a slug has a numbing effect and may have been used by Native Americans to ease the pain of teething for infants.  The students sort of stared at her in disbelief so she illustrated by touching the slug and then touching her finger to her tongue.  Of course, this intrigued the students and she invited them to try it out for themselves.  Believe it or not, most of them did and the next few minutes were full of comments about numb tongues.

As a teacher, my goal for this field trip was to expose students to the environments that we study.  I wanted to immerse them in the learning for the day in a way you simply cannot do within the four walls of a classroom.  Goal accomplished?  I think so!

On the way back to school, I loaded all the pictures from our digital cameras (which students had been using) onto my laptop and gave the computer to a couple of girls in the back of the bus.  Within 30 minutes they had created a movie that gives a great overview of our day.  You can watch it here.

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