Outdoor Learning for Ecology Class

The water is still. The air is cool and silent. Our world for a moment has paused. Leaves on the trees begin to fall and decorate the ground-pretty browns, yellows, and reds. A canoe parts the river and begins a day of serenity.

This year has marked the 15th anniversary that Barb Rathbone-Frank, high school science teacher, has been taking students on field trips to learn about the environment. These hands on experiences will help these kids learn about how important it is to keep our environment safe.

“I really feel that in order to understand and inspire students to make personal choices to help the environment they have to have some kind of recreational activities and then they’ll feel a sense of ownership for a body of water,” says Rathbone-Frank.

This year, Rathbone-Frank and Steve Hess, took 20 students from Rathbone-Frank’s ecology classes to Muddy Run Recreational Park for a day of canoeing and learning about our surroundings.

Christy Rhoades, a senior at Penn Manor, thinks that it is very important for kids to learn about the environment at a young age.

“I think it’s important to learn young because then we can all do our part to make the environment safer,” Rhoades said.

These field trips started about 15 years ago when Rathbone-Frank was a teacher at Marticville Middle School. A club at Marticville called the “Wet Land Club” was for gifted students, these students were able to go on these field trips to learn more about the environment.

Rathbone-Frank is still making sure that her students are getting their chance to work in the field and have hands on experiences.

While on the field trip, the students were kept very busy. After a quick safety lesson on how to canoe, the students headed out into the water.

First, the students did some chemical water testing to see what types of chemicals are in the Susquehanna.

Then the students canoed over to the other side of the water to search for macroinvertebrate. Macroinvertebrate are also known as creatures that have no back bone.

After the search for macroinvertebrate the students had a mini lesson on Marsh/wetlands. That was followed by a game called “camouflage” and then a short history lesson on the “Susquehannocks.”

The day was finished by taking a small trip down to the historic “Locke 15,” which is part of the Susquehanna tide water canal system.

Rathbone-Frank plans to continue her field trips for many years to come.

By Allison Martin

One thought on “Outdoor Learning for Ecology Class”

  1. I wish i could take Ecology but im to poor for it, i cant even figure out if im smart enough for it.

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