Bedminster 6th Graders Savor Meaningful Trip to the School of Conservation

Veronica Puza

Students search for aquatic macro invertebrates during the Water Ecology class

  At the tail end of November, the sixth graders from Bedminster Township Elementary School were welcomed back to the Montclair State University’s School of Conservation for an outdoor educational experience. During their three-day, two-night stay, the students created fond memories that they will not likely forget.

            Group involvement, patience and creative thinking are just some of the integral components promoted at the Action Socialization Experiences (or ASE’s) that the students participated in on their first day. The ASE’s are designed to foster teamwork and cooperation among the students, and through a series of challenges, the students learn the value of effective communication, planning and cooperation. These are the skills students need to develop to be a successful team player in the real world.

            The Beaver Ecology class provided an up close and personal look at an active beaver lodge, damn, and gave insight on how this animal engineer alters the landscape. The discussion focused on adaptations for survival and reproduction, as well as ecological relationships with other wildlife species. By the end of this session the students had a new found appreciation for the largest rodent in North America.

In addition to Beaver Ecology, the students participated in an investigation of water quality during the Water Ecology class. The class began with a discussion about how water is used, why conservation of freshwater is important, and the amount of water usage in our day-to-day lives. After the discussion, the group traveled out to the Big Flatbrook to measure the water quality of the stream. Students were introduced to how we determine water quality by testing for the levels of abiotic factors in the water such as the phosphates, nitrates, and pH and looking at biotic factors, such as benthic macroinvertebrates. While in the Flatbrook, the students collected water samples to test for the abiotic factors and began their search for macroinvertebrates. There is a direct correlation between the kinds of species living in the water and the quality of the water. Therefore, the young scientists were able to determine the health of our stream by the kinds of creatures they collected.

The Bedminster students are at a pivotal age where developing confidence is important, no matter what challenge presents itself. The Climbing Wall lesson at the NJSOC focuses on working through a challenge that is out of one’s comfort zone but within reach of every individual. With the courage to try their best, the Bedminster students gained confidence that they will carry with them in the years to come. As an educator, it was a real treat to see these students rise to the occasion and conquer the 20ft challenge that was thrown their way.

In addition to the classes mentioned above, the students enjoyed sessions in Questing, Pioneer Life, and Survival. On behalf of the faculty and staff, we would like to extend a big thank you to Mr. John Philips, coordinator for the Bedminster School, as well as all of the teachers that made this trip a success!