The Stone Bridge seventh graders from Allentown, NJ visited the NJSOC in late March making two separate trips over a three-day period. The students came eager and ready to learn about a variety of environmentally themed subjects. Although their individual trips were short, they were filled with many different classes and activities!
Over the course of their time here, the Stone Bridge students participated in a variety of classes at the Montclair State University environmental field station, including stream geo-ecology, pioneer life, survival skills, the climbing wall and web of life. They learned about the importance of fresh water, what it takes to survive a night in the woods, how confidence comes from within oneself, and many other lessons.
In Stream Geo-Ecology the students learned about New Jersey’s rivers and streams and how these bodies of water have altered the landscape and influenced the life forms inhabiting the landscape. While stopping at certain points along the stream, the students observed the strength of water, erosion and deposition areas and just how powerful of a force water can be on the landscape. A stimulation activity during the class introduced the students to the perils of water pollution. The activity starts with a clear jar of water taken out of the stream. As we work our way through the watershed our streams will carry oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soaps, garbage, and many other pollutants that come from our more developed environment. What we see by the end of this simulation is no longer a clear jar of water but a jar that is murky and filled with paper, oil, and other various unseen contaminants. The activity is a reminder of our responsibility to practice environmentally sensitive guidelines for keeping our waterways clean.
Prioritizing and improvisation can be considered important learned skills, however when it comes to the NJSOC’s Survival class, prioritizing and improvisation are essential when your survival is on the line. Throughout this class students were involved with decision-making, problem solving, and teamwork. The class also included topics on how to navigate oneself through the woods, how to properly build a fire, and what items are best to pack when going on a hike.
“Two hands, two feet, two eyes,” is a common mantra heard at the Confidence Course. This class consists of a series of challenges set up in the forest, each one with varying degrees of difficulty to overcome. The goal is to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone, taking small risks, and focusing on individual accomplishment. Many of the students that visit the NJSOC are at a pivotal age where confidence is just starting to impact their social roles in school and extracurricular activities. The Confidence Course teaches them that confidence comes from within and that it is important to hold onto confidence. With the small risks they are taking at the Confidence Course they are able to develop an ‘I can do it’ attitude! To build confidence is to build positivity and with positivity anything is possible. The students of Stonebridge certainly rose to the challenges and came out feeling more confident than they expected.
During the Web of Life activity students got a chance to unwind and play an exciting game of predator and prey. In the Pioneer Life class the students examined the differences in natural resource use from the 1860s to modern times, including how renewable and nonrenewable energy resources were used.
On behalf of the faculty and staff at the NJSOC, it was a pleasure to have the students from Allentown come again to visit us! We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Beth Hansen, the coordinator for this trip, and the wonderful chaperones that made this trip as memorable as it was. We will see you next year!