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January 28, 2014

Place-based education brings students into nature

(Continued)

After lunch, students headed to the rail trail in Salisbury where they sketched the marsh. Minnow traps — set the night before in Town Creek — were hauled up, revealing sticklebacks, mummichogs and other small fish. Students measured and compared the temperature, salinity and presence of organisms on both sides of the culvert. The afternoon ended with an off-trail marsh walk that gave students an eye-level view of the estuarine habitat’s plants and animals, and helped them understand how fresh water, salt water and brackish water interact within a wetlands ecosystem.

Students then did further research on the samples they had brought back to the classroom. They created visual and written displays of what they had learned.

The unit inspired Tyler Clements, 10, to become more interested in science. “I got to find out about how plants grow, I got to observe salamanders and frogs, and we made bridges with logs,” he said.

“The point of it all,” Eramo said, “is for students to understand that all plants and animals need adaptations to survive in their unique ecosystems. It’s a really big idea for them.”

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