Connecting Tools, Technology and Science-based Education

Connecting Kids to the Outdoors with Cross-Age Mentoring

MarieReederMarie Reeder, Rogue River School District
Saturday, September 29, 11:00am-12:00noon

I will share my experiences recruiting high school and junior high mentors to work with 5th and 6th grade classes for the past six years, delivering several in-class activities (e.g., building clay models of our watershed) and hosting two field days annually, as well as guiding our students on tours of the drinking water and waste water treatment plants in Rogue River. The program builds interest in our high school’s FFA program, a high school Adopt-a-Stream project with the BLM, and schoolwide mentoring programs, and has offered college tours and a summer field biology class based on local impacts of climate change. We are now graduating students who have participated as volunteers for four and five years. The program also is a cost and time effective way to get our rurally isolated and low income students outdoors regularly.

We will participate in some or all of the following as time allows: Exploring the greenhouse effect with canning jars and thermometers; balloons full of water and air; test tubes of water and rulers. Introducing watershed shed geography with a coordinate graph, using a gridded tarp to have students walk to points and learn to associate cardinal directions with positive and negative numbers before we move to paper mapping.

Marie Reeder graduated from Reed college, has a MAT from Southern Oregon University and taught in a classroom for 20 years, most of them in alternative education. Before entering public school education, she started an outreach program (the Zoo to You) for Portland Parks and Recreation, taught interdisciplinary workshops on watershed and energy themes for the Children’s Museum of Portland, and traveled in several western states with a wildlife presentation for National School Assemblies.


Lessons for Success in the School Garden or Outdoor Classroom

Lucy Miner croppedSarah Wheeler croppedLucy Miner and Sarah Wheeler, School Garden Project of Lane County
Saturday, September 29, 1:45-3:15pm

During this workshop, presenters will share a lesson series designed for educators to help students strengthen their sense of place and connection to their school garden or outdoor classroom of any kind. These hands-on, standards-based activities are focused in the subject areas of art, writing, science, and data collection. They can be stand-alone, or practiced throughout the year and over the seasons, with many lesson extension ideas. Participants will practice the botanical illustration activity and come away with all of the lesson plans and worksheets, in addition to resources around creating a successful routine and best practices for outdoor classroom management.

Throughout the workshop, participants will learn strategies for designing inclusive lessons that support students with varying learning needs. We will model the introduction of the botanical illustration lesson and lead participants through the activity using the accompanying worksheet. During this time, we will point out components of the lesson that incorporate inclusive strategies for supporting students with varying learning needs. Additionally, participants will engage in a scavenger hunt designed to help educators evaluate the key considerations for using any space as an outdoor classroom.

Lucy Miner, Program Director and Garden Educator for School Garden Project of Lane County, has 6 years of experience in environmental education, which includes facilitating lessons in a variety of ecosystems, coordinating volunteers and young educators, and incorporating standards-based curriculum into the outdoor classroom. At School Garden Project, Lucy coordinates educational programs with partner schools, supports garden educator staff, and leads hands-on science lessons in school gardens with elementary school students.

Sarah Wheeler has 6 years of experience as an environmental educator in school gardens. At School Garden Project, Sarah is a Garden Educator, leading hands-on science lessons in school gardens with elementary students, and Support Services Coordinator, a program which offers resources, consultation, and gardening advice to educational gardens in Lane County and beyond. Sarah has led workshops on outdoor classroom management and school garden development.


A New Era of Discovery: Connecting Students to Place Through Arts, Science, and Technology

Sarah Minette Kelly croppedSarah Minette Kelly, Oregon State University, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
Saturday, September 29, 3:30-5:00pm

The Discovery Trail at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (HJA) is a one-mile, ten-stop loop, representing a microcosm of HJA aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We created the Discovery Trail Interpretative Experience for local middle and high school classes to engage with place through an iPad-delivered arts, humanities, and conservation science field trip curriculum. The iPads enable both an innovative learning experience and data collection for assessment.

The digital curriculum blends place-based ecological research by HJA scientists and place-based creative inquiry by visiting writers and artists. The field science content covers NGSS crosscutting concepts like stability and change, patterns, cause and effect, and systems. The iPad curriculum invites students to reflect on their values for forests, imagine the perspective of forest creatures, and explore questions about surroundings they observe, like rotting logs, forest disturbances, and dry streambeds. Students view images of record floods on Lookout Creek, watch videos of red tree voles high in the canopy, listen to Native American stories, read poetry written in the forest, and investigate watershed data over time. We also incorporate opportunities for students to put down the iPads and engage with the forest directly through activities like a silent sensory walk and sound mapping.

During this conference session, participants will first embark on a virtual journey to the Andrews Forest Discovery Trail, imagining a typical day for students who visit the forest on field trips. Then, participants will venture outside for a silent sensory walk and explore one Discovery Trail stop on mobile technology. I will present research findings about the student and teacher experience and share challenges and solutions to using electronics in place-based education. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session.

Sarah Kelly recently graduated from Oregon State University with an M.A. in Environmental Arts & Humanities. Her research project was based at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest where she led field trips and research efforts for the Discovery Trail Interpretive Experience. Prior to graduate school, Sarah directed the University of Houston sustainability program. She graduated from UH with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in World Cultures and Literatures. Other collaborators on the project (not presenting): Kari O’Connell, Lissy Goralnik, Mark Schulze, Michael Nelson.


Connecting Pollination to Food Production through Hands-on Exploration and Service Learning

Kassia Rudd croppedKassia Rudd, Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom
Sunday, September 30, 10:30am-12noon

To teach about pollinators, you first have to understand them. This session will introduce participants to 1) the nuts and bolts of gardening for pollinators; 2) identifying native pollinators and their preferred plants; 3) the mechanics of pollination and its significance for food production; 4) tips and tricks for teaching students of all ages about pollinators through academic lesson plans tied to NGSS and Common Core. We will also share teaching resources such as books and lesson kits, and model opportunities for service learning through citizen science. You do not need to have a school garden to benefit from this workshop but do be ready to go outside!

Kassia Rudd is the Washington County Coordinator for Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. Her enthusiasm for the outdoors solidified at Outdoor School and followed her to college where she studied Geology (B.A.), and later Curriculum and Instruction (M.Ed.: Food Systems). Kassia is overjoyed to put her knowledge to use connecting with educators and farmers to further student learning through agricultural programs. Ask her about pollinators, public health, and school gardens!

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