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.
In advance of their trip to Black Hill, eighth graders made nature journals. Park Naturalist Katrina Fauss instructed them on how to use the journals while observing nature on campus.
At the Park Visitor Center, Ms. Katrina gave a presentation about Sandhill Cranes, their identifying features, behaviors, habitats, and changing migration patterns. These Cranes were once a rarity in Maryland, but now there is evidence that they are breeding here.
After listening to a variety of bird call sounds, students headed outside onto the observation deck to spend some time looking for and observing birds, drawing pictures of what they saw and recording reflections about their experience.
Walking around the grounds, they searched for animal tracks and tried to identify the sources of the tracks based on the shape of the footprints. They continued to sketch and record their observations in their nature journals. Walking along lake’s edge, students continued to observe waterfowl, sounds, and tracks in the snow, again recording their observations.
At the end of the day, the group went sledding at the park -- a treat for all the students, but especially for the exchange students from Peru!
Guided by a naturalist from Black Hill Regional Park, Barnesville third and fourth graders explored along the shores of Little Seneca Lake. Rumor has it their boots got pretty muddy. That's a sure sign of a good day exploring!
In Language Arts class, Barnesville fifth graders recently started a cross-curricular project to educate fellow students about the environmental impact of stormwater runoff on the Chesapeake Bay. They will be stenciling informative messages on four storm drain covers on campus to remind people to keep harmful pollutants out of our storm drains and thus out of the Bay.
After researching the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s storm drain stenciling project, students created rough drafts of their design concepts. They will be writing about the project and sharing information with other students.
As Barnesville’s Arts & Sciences Coordinator, Middle School Language Arts Teacher helped to establish the School’s ongoing partnership with Black Hill Regional Park. In addition to visiting campus and leading field trips at the park, Black Hill naturalists like Ms. Katrina collaborate with Ms. Barnhart on environmental education and sustainability practices related to Barnesville’s Green School certification.
Do you know how to recognize when a Monarch butterfly is male or female? Barnesville kindergarten students learned that the males have a black spot on each wing. The black veins on the female wings are also thicker and darker than those on the male wings.
Photo Credit: Monarch Butterfly Garden
Last week, Barnesville kindergartners helped Ms. Katrina, a Black Hill naturalist, tag and release seventeen Monarch butterflies. Each butterfly received a special sticker with a number. The numbers on their stickers tell scientists, if they spot them, where they started their lives. The Monarchs will soon begin their long trip to Mexico!
After tagging and releasing butterflies, the children used binoculars to make observations throughout the park. There were many different kinds of birds, butterflies, trees, and flowers to see. They discussed the characteristics of birds and learned that other creatures like bats and butterflies are not birds even though they have wings.
It has become an annual tradition for 8th graders to close out the year kayaking on Little Seneca Lake.
After a very rainy May/start of June, the class had perfect conditions for a day of paddling. They were even able to see turtles and Blue Herons. After a few hours of kayaking, the Black Hill naturalist took everyone out on the pontoon boat for lunch and a tour of the whole lake.
Do you like spending time in parks and nature? Ever wonder what it takes to make a career of it?
Barnesville 8th Graders got a feel for it at a “Green Jobs” career day hosted by Black Hill Regional Park where professionals from the Montgomery County Parks system spoke about their educational background and the duties their jobs entail. They also provided hands-on demonstrations.
Students visited booths representing a wide range of park-related career paths:
- Park Operations -- Steve Root, Park Manager at Black Hills Regional Park
- Park Police -- Sgt. Galvin Savoy and Sgt. Myrical Gratton
- Wildlife Ecology Unit -- Teddy Fisher, Natural Resources Specialist
- Park Naturalists -- Katrina Fauss, Black Hill Visitor Center and Nature Programs; Glen Rice, Meadowside Nature Center; Sujata Roy, Black Hill Visitor Center and Nature Programs
- Horticulture -- Michelle Nelson, Community Gardens Program Manager
- Forestry -- Colter Burkes, Urban Forester; Thomas Berry, Urban Forester
- Cultural Resources -- Joey Lampl, Cultural Resources Manager; Lisa Berray, Manager of Interpretation and Visitor Services, Agricultural History Farm Park
- Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators (MAEOE)
The program was designed for high school students in Montgomery County Public Schools as part of the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program -- a collaborative effort between Montgomery College, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the Universities at Shady Grove. Barnesville students were invited by Jennifer Scully, Nature Facility and Nature Programs Manager, based on The Barnesville School’s ongoing partnership with Black Hill and students’ community service work at the Park.
As part of the life science curriculum, Barnesville 7th graders raised golden rainbow trout from eggs and released the fingerlings into Little Seneca Creek.
Before the release, students tested the creek water for ammonia, nitrates, and pH level. They compared the stream water balance with pH levels they had been monitoring in the classroom tank. A healthy stream naturally maintains its balance, where students had to add chemicals to maintain the tank’s balance.
Students also observed benthic macroinvertebrates living in Little Seneca Creek. Benthic macroinvertebrates are spineless organisms that lives at the bottom of a stream or creek and are an indicator of the health of a stream ecosystem. The seventh graders used nets to collect organisms from the bottom of the stream and then identified the various organisms found, including Mayfly Nymphs, Crayfish, Black Fly Larvae, and Dragonfly Nymphs.
Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a hands-on environmental program in which students raise trout from eggs to fingerlings, 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.
Gary Stenger, a local wildfowl wood-carving specialist, submitted Barnesville seventh grade student carvings of American Goldfinch to the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival. Judges were so impressed with the work that they decided to create a new species category.
Prizes were awarded to the following students:
- 1st Place Jenna R.
- 2nd Place Charlie M.
- 3rd Place Emily K.
- Honorable Mentions: Lucy W., Carissa P., and Chris J.
Fourth graders participated in the silhouette division, which had 75 entries. Taylor F. received an Honorable Mention.
Stenger has been working with Barnesville students for the past several years. This year he helped 7th and 4th graders learn carving and painting techniques for the Ward festival. He said The Ward Foundation judges were very pleased with the participation from The Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences.Barnesville students also received accolades and ribbons at the Carroll Carvers 27th Annual Festival of Carving.
As part of an art contest sponsored by Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection, Barnesville seventh graders were invited to create a sculpture, poster, or digital artwork around the theme of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Each Day. Every Day."
Congratulations to winners in the 4th-7th grade digital art category:
1st Place: Emily K. and Carissa P.
2nd Place: Gabby A. and Taylor G.
3rd Place: Chris J. and Aidan N.
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