The New Jersey School of Conservation was happy to welcome the Kent Place School to our campus for their traditional 5th grade field trip. During their 3 day, 2 night trip, the students had the opportunity to engage in many different lessons about the cultural and environmental history of Stokes State Forest, as well as enjoy new experience and learn new skills through some of their other classes.
Kent Place began their outdoor education experiences with ASEs, which stands for Action Socialization Experience, a team building experience for students. Groups of students were given a problem to solve or a challenge to complete as a team, helping them build communication, cooperation, and respect with the rest of their small group.
Another favorite class here at the SOC is Conservation Photography, during which students learned about photography techniques and why pictures are so important to us. They then headed outside to take their own unique photos. Each student used techniques including lighting, different perspectives, colors, and leading lines to compose their own photographs during a short hike through the beautiful fall woods. Each student printed one of their photos and titled, signed, dated, and framed it to take home as their own special memory of the SOC.
The Kent Place students also had the opportunity to go macroinvertebrate sampling in a nearby stream during their Water Ecology class. After a brief discussion about water and what water health means for the environment, students hypothesized about the level of pollution they might find in a stream here at the SOC. They then learned how macroinvertebrates can be bio-indicators of stream health because of their sensitivity to polluted water and searched for macroinvertebrates, hoping to find some cool tiny animals to identify later.
Meanwhile, other students were experiencing another facet of New Jersey’s environmental history through Woodworking. Students learned about woodworking in the early days of farming in this region and got to practice with the tools our ancestors might have used to build homes for their families in the early 19th century. For the second half of class, the students were split up into smaller groups and began to build birdhouses to take back to their school at the end of their trip.
Questing, another unique experience offered at the SOC, allowed the students to take the lead on the journey through the forest, where they followed clues to interesting places along the trail. Each stop had a new, exciting task for students to complete or learn about, such as searching for amphibians or identifying nearby tree species to figure out which direction to go next. At the end, students were led to a box full of medallions, in the tradition of early English letterboxing (a similar activity to modern day geocaching).
The Kent Place students’ trip wrapped up with Boating, a favorite activity of many students who come to the SOC. Students learned how to paddle a canoe, then got to take a boat out on the water to look for wildlife, play games, and hone their paddling skills.
The NJ School of Conservation staff would like to thank coordinator Becky Van Ry and all the teachers of Kent Place School for their help in making this visit possible. We had a great time with these 5th graders and wish them luck in their future endeavors. We look forward to working with the Kent Place School again next year!
Written by Mary Birrer