Taking the classroom outdoors makes it possible for students to learn by working hands on with the environment. Testing the waterways in a given area will show students much about the impact of changes in the environment. But science and nature are not the only subjects that can have lessons best taught in the outdoors.
For the past several years, ninth grade students at Southmoreland High School in the Pittsburgh area have spent two days in area waterways testing and comparing the water.
Traditionally, the students spend the two trips working at three different stations to test the waters physical condition, chemical make up, biology of the stream and overall health, but this year, the students first trek to Stauffer Run off Kendi Park included a little bit more.
“We went full scale this year,” said Lindsay DiCasolo, earth and science teacher and faculty event coordinator of the first trip. “In addition to our three water stations, we also added a math station, a language arts station, a history station and physical education. We are trying something a little bit different.”
The non-water related stations were held in the park, with students being split into groups as they visited each area.
The history station included discussions on local coal mining history and the other stations dealt with the different subjects in interesting and fun manners.
“The math station worked on calculating the slope of the stream bank based on the data they collected while working at the physical characteristics stream station,” DiCasolo said. “So basically they collected the data at one station and then moved to the math station and use their own data to plot the best fit line for the slope of the stream bank. The language arts station focused on symbolism and nature. Currently, in class the students are working with Romeo and Juliet. Jenna Hixson, our English teacher, planned a lesson on the elements of nature, symbolism in the elements and how that characters could be associated with symbolism in nature.”
The students will use the water data collected, which includes information such as depth, chemical make-up and macroinvertebrates, calculate their findings and were to visit Greenlick Run, a natural to take similar tests.
The students will compare the two streams, both local but very different in composition.