This summer, middle school kids bring learning to the forest, and are wasting no time learning about the creatures around them at the forstry research station.
On their arrival at the station in the woods at Sargent Center the first animal to get the attention of about a dozen middle school age campers was a large toad.
Daisy Young scooped up the toad and showed it off briefly before allowing it to squirm free. “It’s Morgan Freeman the Third,” one sstudent shouted.
The campers gathered around the escaping toad, and tried to decide if he was the same one they had named Morgan Freeman earlier. Or maybe he was the one they named Morgan Freeman Two. “Give him at least 2 yards,” said counselor Ian Lockwood as the toad scampered off.
That question was never resolved, and it took Lockwood and counselor Maura Genova a few minutes to reassemble the group. But in short order the middle-school kids were carefully studying water samples they’d collected the previous day. Some of them observed the levels of clay, silt and sand that had settled in the bottom of a jar and estimated the percentages of each material. Others, after adding a drop of liquid to a test tube of water and shaking the tube vigorously, compared the now-purple sample to a color chart to determine acidity. They were outdoors, having fun, making friends — and at the same time practicing their math skills.
The campers are all students from Great Brook School and South Meadow School. They were attending ConVal Quest, a week-long overnight camp session run by Nature’s Classroom, which conducts environmental and outdoor adventure programs at Sargent Center. Sponsored by the Peterborough Rotary Club, ConVal Quest is in its first year. It’s intended to provide a sleep-away, outdoor camp opportunity for middle school students in the ConVal district who might otherwise get to go to camp.