Wednesday, November 4, 2009

6th Grade Day

Today I was only at Troy Springs for a few minutes. I checked in with my co-workers and talked about projects for the end of this week. I did the morning paperwork, and I headed over to Ichetucknee Springs. I did take a minute to see if the little snake from yesterday was still there. It was!
Today was an annual event called 6th Grade Day when kids from the nearby school come over to get an introduction to the park and some of the things that they can learn about their environment. When they are in 7th Grade, they will come back to the park throughout the year for different outdoor labs that relate to their science classes. During today's event, the kids circled through seven stations about Gopher Tortoises, Indigo Snakes, Macro invertebrates, Fish, Spring Restoration, Personal Pollution, and Prescribed Fire. I presented the Personal Pollution station with the help of a model called an Enviroscape. The model simulated a city with several sinks throughout the landscape. The "sinkholes" and waterways drained to a container under the model.
During the presentation, I talk about all of the different types of pollution that can end up in waterways. As we discuss each type of pollution, I represent it physically on the model with things like cocoa for top soil, powdered drink mix for fertilizer and pesticide, cooking oil for road sludge, and coffee for cow manure. I tell the kids that a rainstorm is on the way which may wash all of the pollutants into the aquifer. After a quick explanation of the benefits of wetlands, I assign 5 kids to be builders and the remainder of the group become city planners. I let them loose to work as a group to contruct wetlands (sponges), grassy areas (felt), and anything else such as damns, berms, walls, trees, etc (clay) in order to keep pollution from getting into the waterways.
When they finish, I hand out spray bottles and allow all of the kids to pour some rain on the city. They enjoy seeing the cocoa and drink mix puddle up and the cows fall over in the rain. Its great fun, but when the clouds lift and I take back the water bottles, we remove the container below to see how they did. If the water is relatively clear then they did a good job of containing or filtering pollution. We take a minute to re-focus and talk about what worked and what didn't. We also talk about what each individual living in the city could do to prevent the pollution in the first place. I make sure that all of their questions are answered and send them on to the next station. I did that program seven times today and each group came up with very different ideas. It was fun to watch them work together and develop their cities.


Cathy said...

this reminds me of when you worked at the nature center in Deleware, I always loved your stories about the kids....."What does the N stand for?" Ha Ha!Cath

Lorena said...

You? Are like five thousand kinds of awesome. What a great event!

Ranger Amy said...

N is for Nature! I miss that hat. Do you still have it?
6th grade day is pretty cool. I was afraid that I would miss it or need help because of my broken arm, but it all worked out.