By Laura Hunt and Beth Runci, third grade teachers (originally shared on their kidblog.org page)
We had a wonderful day of learning with Save the Bay teachers! They met our class at Riverside Park in Olneyville, near the Woonasquatucket River Greenway. After helping the children locate our place on a map and explaining Save the Bay’s mission, the teachers split the students into four groups. Each group spent about 40 minutes at four different stations.
On the History of the River walk, students learned about ways in which native people once used resources available near the river and how the industrial revolution brought with it some harmful changes. This station helped students build connections to the book, A River Ran Wild, by Lynne Cherry, which we are reading in Social Studies.
At the hands-on watershed model, we enjoyed creating a little community with buildings and vehicles. Then, the children simulated adding fertilizers and other chemicals to this environment to discover what happens to pollutants in a watershed when it rains.
At another station, the children used a large hands-on model of a flounder to learn about its anatomy. They enjoyed burning off some energy by playing a running game to simulate the challenging journey a fish needs to make to its spawning territory, and the relationship between predators and prey.
For many students, seining for macroinvertebrates in the river was a highlight of this trip. At this station, we caught lots of critters, and discovered what kinds of creatures indicate a healthy habitat. Save the Bay has added a cool, new viewing apparatus to this station, allowing the children to get a close-up look at the water rushing by and the creatures they found.
This field trip is an important foundational experience for much of the learning we will do in Social Studies this year. Working in small groups helps students begin building cooperative problem-solving skills. Thinking about the Native people who once inhabited our local region sets the stage for our study of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags. We will re-visit big ideas about conservation during our National Parks unit. Many students are better able to think about conservation efforts in other regions of our country by drawing upon the experience they had in September learning with Save the Bay. How fortunate we feel to be able to offer such rich experiential learning to our students.
Many thanks to our parent chaperones, Charlotte, Hiroko, Jen, Kerri, Lauren, Kevin, and Vanessa, and our Science teacher, Anna. Their help, patience, and good sense of humor throughout the day was much appreciated!