To begin the process, I started with a simple question: “What am I interested in?” After a lot of contemplation, I chose to focus on Wetlands. Next came the difficult part: How do I engage children from different age groups (K-4) and still accomplish the goal for students to discover benefits wetlands have for humans and animals.
Keeping this goal in mind, three stations were developed: 1) Water Filtration, 2) Flooding Station, and 3) Water Fowl Shuffle.
1) Water Filtration focused on how water infiltrates the ground in different environments and how soil filters that water. Students observed demonstrations showing how water infiltrates urban and natural landscapes, and then created their own wetland soil water filters.
2) Flooding Station focused on how wetlands absorb water and can protect homes/communities from flood events. Students were given two graham cracker houses and materials to construct two landscapes: One landscape of their choosing and one wetland landscape. Water was poured into each landscape to represent a flood event. This demonstrated the impact floods have on homes when wetlands are present and when they are not.
3) Water Fowl Shuffle was split into three sub-stations:
Students used clue cards to identify different waterfowl/bird mounts and discovered fun facts about the birds. Students investigated the mounts using touch and sight.
2. Beaks and Bills
Students selected cards representing waterfowl and based on pictures discovered the type of food the bird eats. They then chose a utensil representing the bird’s beak or bill. Students used the utensil to collect the bird’s food from a kiddy pool filled with water.
Students acted out the migration process of several waterfowl species and experienced how wetlands are rest stops for these migratory species. At the wetland rest stop area students researched more about waterfowl and wetlands from books provided.
This was the first program I developed completely from scratch and it was a great success! Nearly a month was spent on brainstorming, experimenting, discussing, and writing up these activities. Without the help of my fellow naturalists, guidance from High Five (our Education Coordinator), and materials from the Northeastern Nevada Museum this program would not have been such a success.
It was amazing to see all the smiles, hear the laughter, and to simply be surrounded by so many engaged people. I set the bar high for myself on this one and it will be difficult to match in the future!