Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Latest Project

I've been obsessed the last few weeks with an idea that has been percolating for a while now in my noggin: to extend our school's little nature trail across the stream and along it to the west end of the campus and thence back across the brook, up the bluff, by the driveway cut, up the northwest knoll, by the chesnuts, around the playground and building, by our Three Rivers display, by the classroom gardens and the bog garden, and back to the original trail. We will need two little bridges, the first would cross the stream right in the middle of the picture below.

Our school has the great advantage of sitting on a little bluff above this stream hard by the Berry College Wildlife Management Area. If you look through the naked winter trees at the upper right, you can barely make out the silhouette of the back wall of the school cafeteria. The trail would meander along the flat bottom to the left of the brook. Our students can study the macro- and micro- invertebrates that dwell in our stream. They can catalog the flora and fauna in the stream, on the bluff, in the bottomland, on the slopes.

The canopy has been opened here by the fall of a big tree and a small clump of pines saw the newly available light and moved right in. That's called succession. Children can investigate succession in the many overthrow mounds of different ages along the proposed trail.

The stream dribbles across shelves of sandstone, the compressed detritus of centuries that settled to the bottom of an ancient sea. Several varieties of fern find dirt-filled crevice homes.

How many elementary schools can boast such a campus?

I have written up a brief proposal to our School Improvement Team. I walked the principal along part of the proposed trail and explained some of the flora, fauna, geology, and ecology that students could investigate, and he seems pretty enthusiastic about the idea. And I have enlisted the help of a parent who works with the state department of natural resources, who is fired up and investigating grants.

This project fits into our special status as a school that emphasizes using the environment as an integrating context for curriculum. I hope we can make it happen.

More later...

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