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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.”
Barnesville fifth graders, Toby A. and Auveen K., each earned 4th Place Honorable Mention recognitions in the Laughing Gull Silhouette contest at the 46th Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival. Local wildfowl woodcarving specialist, Gary Stenger, accepted the awards on behalf of the Barnesville students. Thanks to Mr. Stenger’s coaching and sponsorship, every Barnesville student painted a wooden silhouette of a Laughing Gull for the national competition.
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