The New Jersey School of Conservation was delighted to welcome the students and staff of Long Pond Public School for a 3 day, 2 night field trip. The 6th grade students took classes designed to teach them about local history and environmental science of the area.
After a quick orientation and splitting up into smaller groups, the students headed off to their first classes. For some, that was Fish Ecology, a look into the biology and behavior of the fish that live in Lake Wapalanne. Starting with a discussion of the types of fish that live in northern NJ and how they naturally interact with each other and their environment, the class ended up outside to go fishing and help add to NJSOC’s fish research.
During Survival/Orienteering classes, student groups learned how to use a compass to navigate an orienteering trail leading them through the woods. At each stop, they learned about survival techniques including how to avoid panicking, how to get drinkable water, how to build a fire, and how to build an effective debris shelter.
In Conservation Photography, students got a chance to be nature photographers. After learning about some useful photography tips and techniques, the group hiked into the forest to use their newly acquired skills and take some beautiful photos. Back in the classroom, each student printed one image they were particularly proud of to take back with them.
Students had the opportunity to get into the stream and look for critters during Water Ecology classes. Inside the classroom, they learned about what leads to a healthy stream and what human beings can do to help conserve the planet’s freshwater resources. The 6th graders then hypothesized about the health of the streams at the School of Conservation and headed out to look for macroinvertebrates to test their hypothesis.
Questing, another unique class 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).
Long Pond students had a blast learning how to handle bows and arrows during Archery class. After several practice rounds, the groups had a competition to see whose team could score the most points in a couple of rounds, and everyone got to check out how much they and their teammates had improved since the beginning of class.
The staff of the NJSOC would like to thank coordinator Darice Meyers and all the teachers of Long Pond School for making this trip possible! We had a wonderful time with these 6th grade students and wish them the best of luck during the end of the school year. We look forward to working with Long Pond again next year!
Written by Mary Birrer