Students Go Into the Wild to Learn Science
FREMONT – Holding a crawfish pulled from nearby Muskellunge Creek was the highlight of Olivia Thomas’ day on Tuesday.
Although pulling water samples, planting a rain garden, viewing tiny organisms in a microscope and more at Christy Farm Nature Preserve was fun, holding a crawfish was a first for her.
“It tickled, and it was so cute,” said Olivia, a seventh-grader at Fremont Middle School.
Olivia and about 120 of her classmates spent the day at the preserve, located just outside Fremont.
Fremont City Schools officials have been planning the field trip since last summer to fit in with the science curriculum, said Denice Hirt, director of curriculum, assessment and staff development.
“These are all things we could have taught in the classroom,” Hirt said. “We’re adding the experience. I think it’s an opportunity for our kids to put their hands on the science standards we teach in the classroom.”
Seeing the crawfish where they live, and finding out what they look and feel like, enhances the experience.
“Generally, it really does help some kids to see the concepts in nature,” said Chad Hoffman, Fremont Middle School science teacher.
The day also was a chance for students to develop a greater appreciation for nature, said Rob Krain, Black Swamp Conservancy executive director.
“Kids spend too much time in front of screens these days,” he said. “If they’re going to love (nature) and care for it in the future, we’ve got to start that now.”
Christy Farm Nature Preserve is a 150-acre property that includes woods and a cabin near the creek.
The Christy family, who operated the Christy Knife Co. in Fremont, bought the farm around the turn of the 20th century and operated it for 70 to 80 years, said Dave Albrechta, preserve secretary.
In 1989, D. LaMar Christy Jr. had the land turned into a nature preserve, Albrechta said. Since then, preserve members, Boy Scouts and others have helped improve the cabin on the site and enjoyed the land.
The Black Swamp Conservancy has an easement that will ensure the land will remain a nature preserve. Black Swamp, Christy Farm and Fremont City Schools partnered to organize the field trip.
“It’s really unique that it’s so close to town that we could easily get the kids out here,” Krain said.
Students broke into groups and completed activities that involved subjects beyond science, such as social studies and math.
Hoffman had students use hands-on activities and math to determine the average flow of the creek — 26.6 cubic feet per second — and velocity — 1.9 feet per second.
Fremont Middle School social studies teacher Nick Wolfe helped the students map out locations around the preserve, and curriculum teacher Kim Beardmore talked to them about differences in soil.
The students also planted rain and pollinator gardens and examined water samples they took from the property. A grant from the Sandusky County Community Foundation helped pay for the trip and supplies, Albrechta said.
Some of the students, such as Lilah Bauman, regularly spend time outdoors in places like Christy Farms. Others, such as Cassie Kalil, said they don’t get to places like the preserve as often and enjoyed the opportunity to have the hands-on field trip.
“I think it was a really good project,” Hirt said.
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