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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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Release the Trout!

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.

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Earth Day 2017: Plants & Gardens Expo Led by 7th Grade

Skills honed in the School’s Makerspace were put to use at a Bark Boat building station at the Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences Plants & Gardening Earth Day 2017 celebration.

Students built and test-floated mini sailboats using bark as boat hulls. Older students paired with their younger Buddies drilled holes in chunks of bark to install masts and sails. Mr. Weintraub built a temporary pond on the blacktop where the boats were tested for buoyancy and speed. Most boats sank or tipped on the first sail attempt, so students made adjustments -- selecting different sized or shaped bark, moving the mast, and changing the sail until they got their boats to float. Video is posted on Facebook.

In 2016, Barnesville 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 planned a similar Earth Day festival centered on plants and gardening. After spending time planning with Black Hill Naturalists, the students selected the theme and planned related educational games, crafts, and activities.

The day started with students from each grade reading facts about Earth Day, after which everyone viewed a short film. The seventh graders then led pre-k through eighth grade students paired in their Buddy Groups through a rotation of games, crafts, and activities at six different outdoor stations. Stations included: building Bark Boats, creating Fairy Gardens with herb seedlings, making recycled newspaper pots for pollinator plantings, a Weeds vs. Flower game, Water the Flowers relay races, and a nature scavenger hunt in Explorer Woods. Kids also enjoyed casual time with their Buddies playing sidewalk games and having fun with chalk and bubbles. They also used dandelion blooms to create a giant peace side on the hillside facing Barnesville Road.

Snapshots from the day are can be viewed in a Facebook Photo Album.

Some of the day’s events were streamed live on Facebook and can be seen using the following links:

  1. Earth Day Live Stream 1: Bark Boat, Fairy Gardens, Recycled Pots
  2. Earth Day Live Stream 2: Water the Plant Relay Race and Explorer Woods
  3. Earth Day Live Stream 3: Bark Boats That Float!
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Naturalists Lead Campus Scavenger Hunt and Check Bluebird Nesting Boxes

Naturalists from Black Hill took 1st and 2nd graders on a nature and wildlife scavenger hunt around the Barnesville School campus yesterday.

They found empty bird nests and praying mantis egg case.

They also looked inside the Bluebird nesting boxes installed around campus by last year's 6th grade.

Today, the kids went to Black Hill where they learned about worms and the role they play in gardens, as well as which animals rely on worms as a food source.

While the naturalists were on campus, they trained our entire faculty on how to monitor the Bluebird nesting boxes.

Posted by Jan Hyland on Thursday April 6, 2017 at 03:16PM
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7th Grade Planning "Plants & Gardening" Earth Day Celebration

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!

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8th Grade Nature Journaling Project Combines Art, Writing, and Study of Matter

Black Hill Naturalist Katrina Fauss introduced the topic of nature journaling to our 8th graders. She showed them a variety of different types of journals and explained the methodology of journaling.

To prepare for a journaling project at the Park, Ms. Katrina came to Barnesville to talk about techniques and lead students in a practice journaling exercise on our campus. She talked about “how to be still” while out in nature so students can concentrate on individual senses, giving each intentional focus -- first visual, then sound.

Students completed a “pick your place” template once they found their observation spot outside. They were given about ten minutes to complete a chart that recorded: time and place, weather, sounds, colors, animals, patterns, and discoveries. Once this exercise was complete, students then used a nature journal reminders checklist to help them remember more details. They were asked to sketch what they saw and draw the whole object and then a small part of it. They were prompted to think about making comparisons with respect to size, texture and smell. Students also added new details to assist them in going beyond what they already knew.

While at Barnesville, Ms. Katrina also showed the 8th graders how to tye dye paper using shaving cream. The colorful papers were used to make covers for their new journals, which students took to Black Hill Regional Park with them the next day.

In science class, 8th graders have been studying matter, so at the Park students were asked to pair what they’ve learned with their new observation and journaling skills. While observing nature at the park, they considered the continual lifespan of matter in the water cycle, carbon cycle, and the use of finite natural resources. The purpose of the exercise was to help students understand that while matter can't actually be destroyed, human interaction with the environment can change the way the particles are arranged, where they exist on the planet and in the atmosphere (i.e. by burning fossil fuels) and disrupt the balance of the cycle.

One student journaled about his observation of sitting on the edge of the lake at Black Hill Regional Park. He wrote a diamante poem about how the water impacted him. Another exercise had students spend some time in an area of the forest where there had been fire damage. Students explored the area, looking for evidence of the fire and examining areas of regrowth. Then, they were given the option of writing a story, poem or newspaper article about the impact of the fire.

Posted by Jan Hyland on Friday January 27, 2017 at 10:17AM
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Preschool Hunts for Nests at Black Hill Regional Park

EC/Pre-K had a wonderful time visiting Black Hill Regional Park. The students learned how to operate real binoculars and spent time birdwatching from a duck blind. They explored around Little Seneca Lake and tried to locate more birds as well as nests.

Back at the Nature Center, the preschoolers put their newly developed nest-building skills to work making nests using materials found in nature.

See more photos on Facebook

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Preschool Builds Bird Nests

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.

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Bald Eagle Spotted Flying With Vultures

Black Hill Naturalist Ms. Tina visited Barnesville and met with fifth and sixth graders to talk about plans for the Bluebird nesting boxes installed around campus. The group then visited Black Hill and continued that discussion with Ms. Lynette. She also talked to them about the other birds in our area and gave them tips for birdwatching and feeding.

Students spent some time birdwatching along the lake and spotted a Bald Eagle circling overhead with some Vultures and were able to compare their features.

While visiting the bird feeding station and bird blind located next to the lake, they saw Canada Geese, Buffleheads, Nuthatches, Titmice, Chickadees, Crows & a Downy Woodpecker.

Posted by Jan Hyland on Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 02:03PM
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Waterfowl Adventures for Third and Fourth Graders

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.

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Kindergarten Explores Habitats on Campus and at Black Hill

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
    • Meadow
    • Pond
    • Lake
    • Woods
Posted by Jan Hyland on Monday October 3, 2016 at 02:37PM
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