Seventh Grade Nichols Students Learning About Their Environment
Sandy Cunningham's 7th grade chemistry students are getting a thorough education, but it's not all inside a classroom!
These Nichols School students have been learning all about the local environment, particularly The Scajaquada Creek Watershed, and in turn gaining a deeper understanding of how each of us impacts our surroundings.
The class has spent the past year conducting field studies on the creek, and then taking the information they've gathered back into the classroom where they can put it all together to look at the larger picture. Getting the students out into the field gives them a keener insight into the environment, as well as a look at the life of a scientist. Scajaquada Creek was chosen to give the kids a more intimate connection to the land that grows right in their backyards.
"Rather than just look at these things in a lab, which we do" says Cunningham, "We're actually able to take it out into the field, and relate it to a larger picture,and talk about how that relates to our environment around us."
While the hands-on learning method is an effective tool in itself, allowing the class to have real life experience of the things taught in the classroom, they're also having a lot of fun, hopefully making a more indelible impression on their education.
Bridget Hager, one of the 7th graders, says, "I like going out and actually going places, like having it more hands on instead of just being in a classroom with a book."
"You have more ways of looking at it than just like one way that's been described to everybody" says Matthew Calleri, another of the budding scientists "And it's nice to have more of a visual, not just a textbook example of it."
These lessons don't end with the science of the creek, but extend beyond...to the city's history, drawing these students ever deeper into the world around them.
"When you look at the creek as a whole, it really...the creek over time, and the history of Scajaquada Creek really mirrors the history of the urbanization of Buffalo" said Cunningham "And in making that connection, you have a lot bigger picture than just the creek, and just the chemical processes that are going on."
In addition to the cultivation of knowledge, there's something else being grown here... the seeds are being sown for the next generation of the planet's caretakers, Cunningham asserts, "It prepares them going forward to not only be scientists, but to also be stewards. You know, stewards of our community and stewards of our environment."