Students in Betsy Denney’s class hit the trail to explore the wonders of nature.
Fifth grade classrooms at Fouse Elementary School were empty for most of the day on Thursday, September 15. That’s because students were exploring the great outdoors with teachers and naturalists at Sharon Woods Metro Park, a culminating activity of the Columbus Metro Parks SEED Program – Students Exploring Ecosystem Dynamics.
SEED is a comprehensive program developed more than a decade ago as part of a Metro Parks initiative to get every child in Franklin County to a Metro Park. What started out with 36 classes has grown and adapted as the needs of the academic community have changed. Today, hundreds of fifth grade classes from several school districts are involved in the program.
Metro Parks staff conducts teacher training and the park system provides most of the supplies needed for educators to teach Ohio’s fifth grade life science content standards over the nine-week long curriculum, with dozens of hands-on activities. Every child receives a student journal to use during and after the program. Park staff also conducts a 90-minute interactive presentation for each classroom at their school. And each class gets a daylong field trip to a Metro Park where they take an exploratory hike, learn about watersheds and water pollution prevention, and discover nature using microscopes and other scientific tools.
Students learned about concepts and found answers to questions such as what makes up an ecosystem, why specific organisms are found in the parks, what connections there are within the food webs, and how animals and organisms adapt to living in the parks and surviving in a temperate forest biome. They also studied the interconnections between organisms and identified and discussed various dynamics that affect the natural world around them. These skills include life-long learning tools such as the ability to compare and contrast, observe, communicate, predict, classify, interpret data, design, connect, draw conclusions and problem solve.