education season [Bear Brook State Park]

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The seasons: they change in the blink of an eye. This is true especially in the case of what I  call “education season.” I (along with my fellow Bear Brook-ers) am starting my eighth week in classrooms in Manchester. Break that down, and it’s only two more weeks of education season. It’s kind of bittersweet.

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We planned seven lessons prior to this week, but have taught only about five or six, due to snow days and sickness (didn’t get it! Whew!). Our lessons have included a variety of science-related topics. We’ve taught Intro to Earth Stewardship, Habitats, The Water Cycle, Furs, Tracks and Scat, Plants and Pollinators, and Trees. Our upcoming topic is geology, and our final class is Leave No Trace.

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One of our “Bird of the Day” choices

It’s been quite the ride so far. My teaching team (dubbed “The Early Birds”) teach at two vastly different schools. The school where we teach fourth graders on Tuesdays is one with more resources. Their teachers seem to be more seasoned and there are more funds available.

On Thursdays, we teach third graders at a different school. I’ll admit: it’s been a challenge. It’s one of the lowest income schools in the district, and has less resources available to both students and teachers. A lot of the teachers have recently graduated from university, and they themselves are learning the ins and outs of classroom management alongside the Bear Brookers. The students at this school also have challenges at home that translate into how they behave in the classroom. Keeping the focus on science can be hard.

We also do two after-school programs. For these, we partner up with 21st Century and Boys and Girls Club. One of them is at the same school where we teach on Thursdays. We lead a kinder/second grade session, and also a third/fourth grade session. Generally, my team has had a better teaching structure at this program, as opposed to the one with Boys and Girls Club. Because the ages are different, we’ve modified our lessons. We’ve had an ongoing bird-of-the-day focus (recent birds include Blue Jay, Red Jay, Turkey, and Owl), and the kids really love that. Last week, we successfully taught a tree lesson. One of my favorite moments was reading The Lorax.

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We teach at these schools to help supplement their science programs. It’s a little scary to think that without this program, schools get only some science or else none at all, even in the affluent district. The conservationist in me worries about the future of programs like these, and what that will mean to the future of our state parks. If children aren’t taught why we should value them, will they care?

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Still, the seasons change in the blink of an eye. While I know I’ll miss these kids and education season…I’m excited for the transition into trail season.

-Karlie

All of these pictures came from the site Pexels, and fall under a CCO License.

This post is part of a series focused on Karlie’s ten-month conservation posting with Bear Brook State Park through The Student Conservation Association. It lasts from January 2018 and ends October 2018. During that time, she and her co-workers provide education outreach to local Manchester schools, maintain worker facilities on state park land, and work to maintain trails and local animal habitats.


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