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Monday, April 6, 2015

I Am a Scientist Because,....

Asking questions
Every Thursday afternoon, kindergarten students from Union Elementary school walk a few blocks to Harrison Field to have ECO. This team of teachers from UES have worked with our ECO staff at The North Branch Nature Center for over three years and have refined and expanded on their opportunities to learn outdoors with their students. This past Thursday the sun shone and warmed these 5 and 6 year olds into an exploratory group of scientists. Each kindergartner was prepared to collect and record data with a science journal, magnifying lens, pencils and a collection bag. The task for these children was to record things they thought were helpful to the forest and things that were not helpful.  This is an interesting task for a young child! I wondered what they write in their journals. Would they even find anything? Would they care?

It became immediately obvious that these children had knowledge about this little wooded lot amidst a busy neighborhood. These kindergartners have been visiting Harrison Field since September and have developed a strong sense of place. They know that deer sleep under the pines at the top of the hill. Pine trees are helpful. They have watched crows building a nest in a tree at the edge of the forest. Sticks are helpful. They have played in the mud and wet areas in the field. Water is helpful. On this spring day they picked up plastic wrappers. Garbage is not helpful.  The desire to search, question and record was intrinsic. These children wanted to help! They also knew what it looked and sounded like to be a scientist. Gathered around a pile of crow feathers, students huddled and wrote down their observations.  They looked closely with hand lenses. The teacher and I stepped back from the group and let them continue their investigations with no interruptions. This is science, this is learning in nature and this caring about the environment. 

Looking closely

Off to find more evidence

Thank you to Emily Wrigley and her class of amazing Kindergartners for sharing their love of the natural world with me! To learn more about why we become scientists, check out #IAmAScientistBecause on twitter! 

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