Black Hill Partnership Blog
In the fall of 2015, Barnesville embarked on a school-wide partnership with Black Hill Regional Park to enhance outdoor and environmental education across the School’s curriculum. This blog chronicles related programs and activities.
Naturalists from Black Hill came to Barnesville to talk with 5th and 6th graders about what a watershed is, explaining that our campus is a small part of the very large Chesapeake Bay watershed. Students went outside and walked our property, identifying how and where water travels when it rains. They checked their hypotheses with a satellite view of the campus.
We also did an activity where students learned about different water pollutants and how they affect Ph. While reading a narrative about the last 500 years, students added pollutant simulators to water taken from our tap and measured the Ph before and after.
The next day, we went to Black Hill where we talked about how the lake was formed. We learned that it serves as an emergency water reserve for the water treatment center. We again looked at a satellite map and could see differences in water quality in areas where the park meets the shoreline versus where there is a lot of development around the shoreline.
Using the polluted water from the previous day, students broke into groups and used a variety of filtering systems to try and clean the water.
Each year, Barnesville chooses a nature theme that is integrated into student studies across all grade levels, providing opportunities for cross-curricular learning, buddy activities, and environmental awareness. This year’s school-wide theme is "water" -- where to find it, why all living things need it, the impact of water pollution and water-related natural disasters. The water theme will also be incorporated into our educational partnership with Black Hill Regional Park.
Kindergarten was the first class to work with Black Hill this school year. Naturalists took the students for a nature walk around Barnesville's campus to find sources of water for animals. In damp places, students found huge mushrooms. In addition to finding places where water collects naturally, students learned about the barrels we use to collect rainwater near our garden and greenhouse. Naturalists also pointed out areas where water has eroded the land.
While visiting Black Hill the next day, Barnesville students learned about the many animals that live in and around the lake. They also learned about pollinators like dragonflies and butterflies. Students also got to tag Monarch Butterflies and then let them loose in the park garden. You can see additional photos on Facebook.
As the kindergarten class starts to care for the bird feeders around Barnesville’s campus, they will be all the more aware of the wildlife that shares our space and their need for water too!
To wrap up the year, 8th grade paddled Little Seneca Lake with the wonderful staff at Black Hill Nature Programs, Montgomery Parks. They learned the proper technics to paddle through all types of water. Check out photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnesvilleSchool/phot...
Barnesville's 7th graders released 37 Golden Rainbow Trout fingerlings into Little Seneca Creek. The students raised the fish from eggs and have cared for them in the classroom since December 2016. They monitored the water chemistry of the tank and changed the water as needed as they observed the growth of the trout. The trout unit is a part of the life science curriculum.
On the day of the release, Middle School Science Teacher Mrs. Farah and the seventh graders met Black Hill Naturalist Katrina Fauss at Little Seneca Creek Park. The students individually counted and released the fingerlings. Then, they hiked back upstream and Ms. Katrina led them in a benthic macroinvertebrate sampling lab.
A benthic macroinvertebrate is a spineless organism that lives at the bottom of a stream or creek. They are an indicator species that scientists can use to determine the health of a stream ecosystem. The students were first briefed on the types of invertebrates they could expect to find and provided with dichotomous keys to aid in identification. Next, they waded into the creek to disturb the creek bottom whiling using nets to collect the organisms that became dislodged. Sampling took about an hour, but when the class was finished, they had larva from crane flies, mayflies, and dragonflies, 2 crayfish, 2 types of fish, and numerous snails. They even found some salamander eggs.
“The amount and diversity of the invertebrates they found demonstrated a very healthy stream environment for our trout,” said Mrs. Farah.
Students also tested the water for ammonia, nitrates, and pH level. They compared the stream data with the data the were previously monitoring in the tank. Some of the students were impressed that, while we were constantly adjusting chemicals to maintain the water quality of the tank, the stream data was perfectly balanced, without outside help.Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a hands-on environmental program in which students raise trout from eggs to fingerling, manage chilled tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, develop a conservation ethic, and are taught to understand ecosystem connectivity.
More photos can be viewed on a Facebook Slideshow.
In 2016 Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences faculty and naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park teamed up to create a Flying WILD Festival, an entire day of fun outdoor and environmental education activities related to birds, their habitats, and their migration. The day was the culmination of six months of bird-related nature lessons.
This year, Barnesville seventh graders are taking on a leadership role by planning, prepping materials, and leading small group activity stations. They have been spending time with Black Hill Naturalists planning for the second annual schoolwide Earth Day celebration which will take place on Friday, April 21.
While visiting Black Hill Regional Park, Barnesville seventh grade students brainstormed on a theme. They decided on “Plants and Gardening.” They researched activity ideas and voted as a class to decide which activities best fit the theme and were appropriate for all grade levels. They also had an opportunity to tour some plant activity stations at Black Hill Nature Center to get more ideas.
Stay tuned for more about this year’s Earth Day celebration!
Miss Tina, a Black Hill Naturalist, came to talk to Barnesville’s early childhood and pre-k classes about nature, birds, and bird nests. Preschoolers studied real bird nests then made some of their own! Pre-k students made observational drawings of their nest and designed a bird that would live there. They named the bird, drew the birds, and decided on characteristics of the new species.
Third and fourth grades had a grand experience learning about waterfowl from Jen Scully, a naturalist from Black Hill Regional Park. During the two-day field study, students learned the differences between loons, coots, and mallards. On their field trip to Black Hill, students used binoculars to observe different waterfowl in their natural habitat. As an added treat, they got to see a blue heron and a cormorant.
Ms. Katrina, a naturalist from Black Hill Regional Park, visited with the kindergarten class to teach them about how to explore natural habitats found on campus. Following is some of what they did:
- Learned how to use binoculars
- Talked about rules for observing birds in the wild
- Walked around campus looking and listening for birds
- Saw empty shells from molted Cicadas
- Walked behind the fenceline and found funnel spider webs and a fox skull!
- Listened to birds in Explorer Woods
- Found a Persimmon Tree -- foxes love persimmon fruit
A few days later, the class took a field trip to Black HIll Regional Park:
- Watched a live webcam of a Peregrine Falcon in Baltimore
- Talked about Bald Eagles
- Learned about Monarch Butterflies
- Helped tag Monarch Butterflies to help with a study by the University of Kansas
- Helped release Monarch Butterflies
- Saat in a bird blind to watch for birds
- Explored different habitats around the Park looking for birds and other wildlife
Barnesville eighth graders got to see wildlife at Black Hill Regional Park from a completely different angle, kayaking along Little Seneca Lake.
Students spent the morning being trained on water safety and basic kayaking skills. Then, Black Hill naturalists, Ms. Tina and Ms. Katrina, who have been working with Barnesville students throughout the year, joined them on a water-based expedition.
Spotting beaver lodges, naturalists pointed out the underwater access points where the beavers enter the living areas. Students also saw turtles and young geese at two different developmental stages. The group paddled close to the Wood duck nesting boxes and learned that when babies are ready to leave the nest, they launch out onto the water.
In April, students visited an area of the Park after a wildfire and collected data to compare foliage and wildlife in areas affected by the fire to areas untouched. From the kayaks, they could see the same areas from a different angle and took note of the recovery taking place.
On this final visit to the Park, the Class of 2016 dropped off a gift to give back to the community for the experiences they had throughout the year. The students and their families donated a collapsible wagon filled with birdseed, clipboards, and other items the naturalists can use when other students groups visit the Park.
Tara Barnhart, Eighth Grade Teacher and Arts & Sciences Coordinator at Barnesville said, “This was an excellent way to close out the school year. As our eighth graders prepare to graduate and launch out onto new adventures, we have great appreciation for the many ways our partnership with Black Hill continues to open up new learning opportunities for our students.”
Naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park have been teaching first and second graders about native plants on campus. They spent a morning at the Park learning how to properly plant flowers and then put those skills to good use. Students helped plant different varieties of milkweed as well as black-eyed Susans and other butterfly and bird-friendly plants. After helping with the planting, they explored the Park and many of its beautiful gardens. The Black Hill naturalists gave students four ostrich and sensitive ferns that they brought back to campus and immediately planted in the School’s gardens.
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