LEEEP stands for: Learning about the Environment through Experiential Education Projects.
In addition to life science classes noted by grade level: school-wide instruction in gardening techniques, theory and practice of sugaring, invasive plant ID and removal, orienteering and map reading (with Physical Education classes and math classes), and stewardship of the natural world. In most classes: nature photography, journaling, community service projects (e.g. Blood Brook water quality study; riparian tree planting).
This enrichment component seeks to engage children in appreciation, understanding, and inquiry about their local natural world, and our collective responsibility towards it. The coordinator, Lindsay Putnam, directs these environmental science inquiry studies and assists classroom teachers with related curriculum development.
** Due to school closure, Lindsay will be creating videos and other online resources to support distance learning. This information will be updated through the spring. Please go to this link called LEEEP Resources for Families to access the folder. We hope these resources give you inspiration to explore, discover, and learn in your own backyards.
Forest habitat study through the seasons, via support of Forest Friday program; gardening and harvesting; sugaring
Exploring the natural world using your five senses provides a rich and wondering setting for learning. Nature provides a range of purposeful contexts that the children can really become involved in. We are grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world with amazing natural resources right behind our school!
The Milton Frye Nature Preserve has so much to offer including, natural streams to explore the properties of water, trails with a wide variety of trees that change with the seasons, and wildlife that depend upon both. These resources give children tangible ways of working with and in nature to increase their connection to it. Some investigations might take the whole school year as we explore the changes that occur in nature over time. With that in mind, our goal for the MCS kindergarten program is to spend most of our Fridays outside exploring the natural world and make connections with stories, counting, and recording observations.
Stream Habitat Study: exploration of stream organisms, identification and grouping, micro-habitats in the stream, attributes and adaptations to underwater life. Blood Brook "Source to Mouth" watershed exploration field trip. Watershed modeling. Riparian plant investigation; introduce concept of erosion, importance of wetland areas for flood and erosion control. "Leave No Trace at the Stream" class. Winter photography at the stream. Sugaring! Spring nature studies as requested. Planting, weeding and harvesting the garden.
In-depth Forest habitat study: diversity of plant and animal life, tree and flower ID, forest floor organisms. Evolution of a forest, soil formation and soil ingredients, decomposition. How plants grow; photosynthesis investigations; pollination and pollinators; tree life cycles. Traits, heredity, and the influence of environment on survival and evolution. Animal tracking in winter, data analysis and graphing. Forest food chain and energy pyramid. Sugaring theory and practice! Gardening, planting the "3 Sisters" in conjunction with Native American study. Nature photography. Scientific illustration.
Wetland habitat study: Beavers and beaver ponds; structures of cattails and other wetland plants; nature photography and journaling. Vernal pool studies: amphibian reproduction strategies, obligate and facultative vernal pool species identificiation, water chemistry (pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature) and its effects on vernal pool fauna. Sometimes included: Pond organisms, single cell, invertebrate, macro species, pond plants. Water chemistry of a pond and how it affects fauna.
River habitat study: benthic macro-invertebrate species ID; water quality analysis of Blood Brook and report to Conservation Commission; River Day field trip, including learning about wastewater management, natural and cultural history of the Conn R., nature journaling, comparative BMI study at Mink Brook; Physical analysis of Blood Brook: "Is Blood Brook Fit for Trout". Sometimes included: soil chemistry analysis in connection with gardening and 5th grade chemistry unit. Electives include snowshoeing, outdoor winter skills, nature photography, animal tracking, gardening, projects to increase community awareness of invasive plants, rock climbing.
Community service through gardening, Nature Area invasive plant management, trail mulching. Electives include snowshoeing, outdoor winter skills, nature photography, animal tracking, gardening, projects to increase community awareness of invasive plants, rock climbing. (6th grade Habitat study is Ocean. LEEEP not directly involved.)