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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.

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Plants and Spiders and Nests, Oh My!

Black Hill naturalists met with first and second graders to share information about native plants, insects, and animals. They focused on the life cycle of plants, including how different insects pollinate plants.

While at Barnesville, naturalists talked about spiders, explaining how a web’s appearance can help you determine what type of spider lives there. They showed students how to identify a black widow’s web. Students then walked students around campus to find different plants, seeds, and insects.

On their visit to Black Hill Regional Park, students visited the Nature Center. They also took a walk around the park to identify different insect nests and animal homes. They learned how to estimate the age of deciduous trees. Did you know that lichens growing on trees is a sign that the air is clean?

At the end of their visit, students planted Milkweed and Black-Eyed Susan seeds to take home. Milkweed grows 4-5 feet tall. It’s pink and purple flowers bloom in June - August and provide nectar to Monarch butterflies. Black-Eyed Susans grow to be about two feet tall, and its black and yellow flowers bloom June - October, providing pollen and nectar for butterflies and birds.

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Planning for "Destination Conservation"

Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences seventh graders are planning the school’s third annual Earth Day Festival. “Destination Conservation” will take place on campus on April 20, 2018, featuring activities like:

  • Building the Barnesville Bear mascot our of recycled materials;
  • using pizza boxes to make a solar oven to make s’mores;
  • making accessories from recycled items;
  • learning about tiny houses; and
  • a food waste relay.

We posted a School News story, where you can learn more. Here are some behind-the-scene photos of the planning session...

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Barnesville School 7th Graders Learn Waterfowl Carving Techniques From Local Expert

Gary Stenger, a local wildfowl wood-carving specialist, is back for a third year to work with Barnesville students to create bird silhouettes for the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival.

Seventh graders are learning carving techniques from Mr. Stenger. Using dremel sanders and other tools, students are creating feather grooving texture on wooden bird silhouettes. Later they will add details with paint. Photos can be viewed on Facebook.

Mr. Stenger was introduced to Barnesville through the School's partnership with Black Hill Regional Park. This year he is working with 7th and 4th graders.

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Barnesville 8th Graders Make Nature Journals for Field Observation at Black Hill Regional Park

While visiting Black Hill Regional Park, Barnesville eighth graders were introduced to a variety of different types of nature journals. They were given options to create their own, using materials like paper bags to make the covers. Some students decorated them using simple watercolor paints. Others created a tie dye effect using shaving cream and food coloring. (NOTE: Here's a link with instructions how to make your own tie dye stationary).

After creating their journals, they went outside to do a field observation. They sat near the edge of Little Seneca Lake (a reservoir that is part of the Montgomery County, Maryland Parks system) to listen, observe, record, sketch, and write.

Later, students went back to the Nature Center and some students shared their observations and journal entries.

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Preschool Nature Observations

Black Hill naturalists spent time with Barnesville Preschoolers (EC3 and PreK classes) to work on nature observation skills.

Ms. Tina visited Barnesville’s campus where she led the kids on a scavenger hunt looking for wildlife around campus. They first made predictions about what kids on things they thought would be easier or harder to find. They then set out to find things like mushrooms, moldy leaves, and insects and then compared their predictions to their experience.

The next day, students put their observation skills to work at Black Hill Regional Park. They looked at plants and tress up close with magnifying glasses. On a walk in the woods, they looked under logs for signs of life, being careful to not be disruptive to the natural setting. The group walked through a meadow hoping to observe birds by the lake. While there were no birds at that time, they did get to see a frog in the Nature Center.

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5th & 6th Grade Explore What it Means to be Part of a Watershed

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.

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Wetlands Exploration - 3rd & 4th Grade Field Study

Barnesville's 3rd and 4th graders spent a morning exploring the wetland and storm water facilities at Germantown Town Center Urban Park.

The students examined the different plants, birds, and wildlife that make up a wetland. The group ended their field study back at Black Hill Regional Park, taking the time to make observational drawings of the natural treasures found while exploring the wetlands earlier.

Check out the slideshow...

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Kindergarten Learns About Water & Pollinators

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!

Posted by Jan Hyland on Tuesday October 17, 2017 at 09:36PM
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8th Grade Kayaking on Little Seneca Lake

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:

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7th Grade Student Earns Honorable Mention at Youth Wildfowl Carving Competition

Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences seventh grader Jordan T. earned an Honorable Mention for her goldfinch silhouette bird carving in the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival.

Working under the guidance of wildfowl woodcarving specialist, Gary Stenger, Barnesville fourth and seventh grade students created bird silhouettes that were submitted for the Youth Competition held in Ocean City April 28-30.

Barnesville seventh graders learned carving techniques from Mr. Stenger and his wife Pam. Using dremel sanders and other tools, students created feather grooving texture and added additional details with paint on wooden goldfinch silhouettes. Fourth graders painted morning doves. Reclaimed wood from a Barnesville family’s farm was used to mount the silhouettes on wooden bases.

This is the second year that Mr. Stenger worked with Barnesville students, building on the School's partnership with Black Hill Regional Park.

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