In New York’s mid Hudson valley, the Mohonk Preserve is developing an outdoor science curriculum to boost STEM instruction.
The nonprofit land preserve’s field studies program serves 3,800 students from 40 elementary schools, including schools in Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, New Paltz and Marlboro.
The new curriculum is being field-tested in conjunction with the New Paltz Central School District. The curriculum will dovetail with evolving state STEM — science technology engineering and mathematics — standards.
The curriculum development project seeks to ensure that students “build the knowledge and skills necessary to become naturalists and understand how the natural world works” as they work from kindergarten through sixth grade, Mohonk Preserve Educator Cathy Shiga-Gattullo said.
The preserve also wants to ensure that its program is more user-friendly for teachers.
“We’ll be revising our pre- and post-visit materials based on teacher input and making sure that our curriculum aligns with new state standards,” Shiga-Gattullo said.
The field studies curriculum is also being expanded with the development of new programs, including one involving trail monitoring and assessment.
“Participating students will conduct a biological survey and use analog and digital tools to measure various trail parameters to rate conditions, including alignment, tread width, soil depth, slope, root exposure and others,” preserve Director of Education Kathy Ambrosini said.
The students will also identify, map and photograph impacted areas, using geometry to assess their size, Ambrosini said. The students will analyze the causes of the impacts, assess potential remediation measures and design and model solutions.
“Highly active and engaging, this program will motivate students and stimulate interest in the STEM disciplines,” she said.
The development project is being supported by a grant from the Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of the office supply chain. The foundation’s 2 Million & Change program awards grants to organizations focused on education or job skills.