Tasha Kiemel teaches 4th grade at Discovery Elementary School in
Sammamish, Washington, and she serves on the National Environmental
Education Week (EE Week) Teachers Advisory Committee. EE Week promotes
understanding and protection of the natural world by actively engaging
K-12th grade students and educators in an inspired week of
environmental learning before Earth Day. This year’s EE Week
celebration occurs April 12-18, 2009, and the theme is Be Water Wise!
To learn more or get involved, visit www.eeweek.org.
Wetlands can provide all sorts of learning opportunities for young learners. From practicing observation skills, identifying native plants and animals, and monitoring water sources, the wetland behind Discovery Elementary School in Sammamish, WA, is a true outdoor science classroom.
The most recent project underway in the wetland involves streambed restoration. Several years ago, the city put in a boardwalk along the southern border of the wetland, causing extreme damage to a natural streambed. Up until this past fall, the streambed was not flowing naturally and relied on the assistance of a tarp. Amphibians and other water life could not make a home in this type of unnatural habitat. It was a call to action.
Last year, a group of gifted 4th graders designed, tested, and
presented streambed restoration plans to local city officials. A plan
was chosen for this year’s group of 4th graders to implement. In
September, students spent two days in the streambed with a local
biologist removing the tarp and adding log and rock barriers and
emergent plants. To determine the success of the plan, 4th took
monthly water samples and tested them using simple water kits. In the
weeks to come, students will reevaluate the overall success of the
project and determine whether modifications need to be made.
This project has definitely made the students more aware of the world
around them and the importance of taking responsibility for their
actions. While they were not the ones to damage the streambed, they
have learned that they have the ability (and responsibility) to create
a positive change in the environment. These students see themselves as
stewards of the Discovery Wetland and are willing to do anything
necessary to keep it healthy.
Look for posts from additional guest bloggers as we approach EE Week 2009, April 12-18.