Fourth-Graders Enjoy Nature-Oriented Field Trip
It was swampy. It was “batty.” It was educational, and it was fun.
Instructors associated with the Stoll Natural Resource Center in Wysox led fourth-graders from the Wyalusing Area School District on a soggy wetlands hunt, conducted games to instill in them the value of recycling, and dispelled myths about creatures great and small during their visit to the facility on May 20.
“I learned about some bugs that I didn’t know about before,” said Camptown Elementary School (CES) student MacKenzie Tewksbury. Joe Quatrini of the Bradford County Conservation District (BCCD), which provided the grant that made the field trip possible, also showed leeches to the youths in students as he guided them around Wilbur Beers’ family area wetland pavilion.
“It was fun sticking the net in the water to see what you could find,” noted fellow Camptown pupil Savannah Milne, who noted that she also saw sow bugs, tadpoles, and beetle larvae.
“I’m enjoying the scenery,” said Shawn O’Dell, who saw minnows and a frog in the swamp.
“The greater the diversity of the species, the more healthy the wetland,” Camptown teacher Tim Moss added to the conversation. Moss has been the key coordinator of the annual field trip each year. Each of the fourth-grade teachers plays a role in preparing the youths for the trip and taking the lessons learned back to the classroom.
“This is a culmination of things that we have studied throughout the year,” said New Albany teacher Bill Lutz, who noted that the curriculum is designed to meet PSSA science standards. For New Albany, he recalled, the annual field trips were preceded by Conservation Day, during which pupils 14 years ago were introduced to many of the same environmental topics as were the focus of the trip to the Stoll Center.
According to Moss, who has taken part in the educational excursions for five years, noted that the fourth-graders went to French Azilum in 2010.
Because of the threat of rain that fortunately didn’t materialize, Rich Davis set up his display of bat photos, bat charts, and bat pelts inside a garage on the property. The first thing that he asked each rotating group of students was what they (thought they) knew about bats.
Students quickly offered, “They are blind,” “They will get into your hair,” “They want to suck your blood,” and “They have rabies,” all of which Davis dispelled. Bats can see, but their eyes are not especially developed because they only come out at night to go on a feeding frenzy. Bats can get into anything; they don’t necessarily prefer hair. Vampire bats represent less than four percent of known species. Bradford County, Davis assured the students, only has insect-eating bats. And…one-half to one percent of bats have rabies. Raccoons and feral cats are much more likely to be rabid, Davis, who referred to himself as “the bat man,” told the children.
Leigh Twoey of Northern Tier Solid Waste, which covered the cost of busing the children to the site, talked to the students about recycling. She too asked the fourth-graders what they knew about the science that blends conservation with re-use. When a New Albany student brought up the topic of paper-product waste, Twoey validated his response by reminding all of the students that “it takes a very long time for a (paper producing) tree to grow.” She also extolled the monetary benefits of recycling, noting that the students' parents may have to pay to get rid of trash, but they can put recyclables out for free or take them to a recycling center to redeem the trash for cash.
Twoey conducted a “recycle relay,” which pitted teams from the same schools against each other in a race to stash the trash in recycle bins. (A video clip of some Wyalusing Area School District children competing in this event can be found online at www.rocket-courier.com.)
Moss held true on a promise that the fourth-graders were not afraid of the rain, taking the children to the nature reserve and education center despite the threat of rain. Outside of a few sprinkles and puddles upon arrival, the day turned out to be sunny and slightly humid.
Lutz and Moss indicated that the students would follow up the visit in the classroom first by writing “thank you” letters to the presenters, who included Pete Napoli of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; Sigrid Wilkison speaking on the topic of bird nests, and BCCD representative Lee Alexander, who spoke about energy conservation.
“We’ll take a closer look at the points that the kids were most interested in,” Lutz said of the planned follow-up, adding that the field trip to the Stoll Center would be regarded as another successful joint outing (and literally the last) of pupils from the Wyalusing, Camptown, Laceyville, and New Albany elementary schools.