After a hiatus due to the pandemic, sixth and seventh graders from the Princeton Middle School visited The Watershed Institute in late May and early June for team building and scientific inquiry.
At two water bodies, the students assessed the water quality in the Stony Brook and in a small retention pond near the Watershed Center. They collected data to determine if the water conditions were suited for the survival of blue gill fish. The students measured the turbidity, pH levels, dissolved oxygen, macroinvertebrates and other variables in both water bodies to form the claim, evidence and reasoning for their answers.
Students also worked in teams to build shelters in the forests of the 950-acre Watershed Reserve as part of a team building aspect of the field trip.
Jacques Bazile, a science teacher at the Princeton Middle School, said the Watershed outings help students build emotional bonds, connect in team activities and work collaboratively as they engage in their surroundings as real-world scientists.
“Getting back to the field trips makes the learning come alive,” Bazile said. “The students were incredibly excited to have this experience and it shows in their engagement with the activities today.”
Alexis Brown, 13, worked on water measurements with other seventh grade classmates.
“I like the field trips because it is hands-on and we are getting one-on-one experience with what we are learning about in school,” she said. “Here we get to see how everything actually works and not just read about it in textbooks.”
Added Olivia Allison, 13, “here you get to actually do it and helps you remember” what was taught as part of last year’s sixth-grade science curriculum.
Seventh-grade science teacher Marian Melzer said the outing was especially valuable for this grade because they hadn’t been on any trips for two years.
“You can’t replace an outdoor experience with an indoor one,” she said. “This gives them an appreciation for nature, and they will understand how important it is to protect the watersheds and any kind of life.”
Jacques said the teachers and school administrators were eager to resume the Watershed trips, especially after two years of teaching and learning remotely.
“Given the hurdles we had to jump through due to the pandemic, I’m so glad they are experiencing this. No teacher wants to do remote learning. The connection they normally have was not possible. And the administration felt the current seven graders needed this Watershed experience to infuse the social/emotional part of learning into their middle school experience.”
These activities are some of the many immersive and collaborative experiences the Watershed offers school groups, allowing students to collect data, make inferences and create reasoning to support their conclusions. For more information, please contact Anna Hill, Education Manager, at (609) 737-3735 x 42 or by sending an email to [email protected].