Trees, trigonometry, and haiku. Just a normal day in 5th grade, right? Project-based outdoor education means this IS a normal day here at WSCS!
Trees … Fifth-graders have been keeping outdoor ed journals in science class on phenology, observing changes in nature as the seasons change. Each student has their very own sit spot in the Brian Dyk nature preserve and they record observations about environmental changes from that same spot, and this time they observed God’s creation unfolding as winter turns into spring.
The students are developing a greater appreciation for our nature preserve. I heard one student say, “Look at that - someone dumped a couch back here. Who would do that!?” The students are also learning to identify the trees in the nature preserve with Mrs. Staal, parent and Blandford Nature Center educational consultant, who even taught us some tricks for identifying them without leaves.
The students loved being outside. I know this sounds corny, but I did hear one student say, “This is truly inspirational!” From a fifth-grader. For real! “My sit spot looks so different!” “Watch out -- that’s poison ivy!” They’re learning. And they’re developing a heart for this property that we are blessed to have at WSCS.
Trigonometry … Recently Margaret Struder with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks introduced our students to different techniques used to measure a tree and how to use that data to obtain a rough estimate of the tree’s age and height. Not only did the fifth grade students learn about forestry and the role of urban foresters, they also experimented with these different tree height calculation techniques.
Haiku … Students brainstormed a list of words based on their urban forestry experience and observations in their sit spots, and then worked those observational words into Haiku poems, a specific form of Japanese poetry containing only 3 lines and a certain number of syllabus (5-7-5). Using thesauruses, they spiced up their writing using “WOW” (wondering, outstanding) words and then worked hard to display their writing creatively.
Finally, we displayed our Haiku on a “Poetree” displayed in the hallway outside our classroom.
The Lord blesses us with this amazing creation to enjoy and breathe in and wonder at. It is also an amazing place of learning and we are so blessed with this nature preserve space here at WSCS – where trees, trigonometry, and Haiku indeed make for a great day in 5th grade!