Saturday, October 1, 2011

Exeter Milligan Holds Annual Outdoor Ed Day

The second graders are blindfolded by their teacher Mrs. Weber around the "senses" table.

Junior Alicia Bigelow, left, helps second grader Becca Krupicka make a pinecone birdfeeder at the Exeter-Milligan Outdoor Ed Day.
It's become a tradition at Exeter-Milligan for the high school students in Lorie Sliefert's Biology II class to spend a day teaching all about nature to their counterparts in the Exeter-Milligan second.
Outdoor Ed Day began when Marla Weber, Exeter-Milligan second grade teacher, had the idea for the program as a college student.
Each year Weber shares idea packets with Sliefert's class of juniors and they choose a subject from the ideas offered they would like to teach to the second graders. The packet guides the juniors to create hands-on fun activities that are easy for the juniors to teach and interest everyone. One of the favorites for the juniors in this year's event was a senses station where students listened, tasted, touched and smelled different objects. 
Some of the other stations, all taught and directed by the twelve high school students, included hug a tree, making pinecone birdfeeders, learning about the wind, and playing some ecological games.
Second grader Wesley Ronne liked the new GPS scavenger hunt the best, "My favorite game was geocaching.  We had to walk to make the GPS work."
This was a scavenger hunt that required the second graders to use coordinates on the GPS to find items the high school students had hidden in Gilbert's Park. With the day of the event being unseasonably cool and cloudy Sliefert wasn't sure if the active games were more popular because everyone warmed up when they were moving around or if the kids just enjoyed those activities more.
The students all enjoyed playing Bat and Moth which simulates how bat's find their prey and how moth's have to be quiet to not be eaten. With all of the activities the students even created lots of items to bring home with them including a rainstick, a plaster cast of animal prints, a timeline of the events in their short lives written like tree rings, the journal they kept all day and a weathervane.  The items are dual purpose according to Weber, "The students make it for fun and then are able to take the items home to their parents. Telling about the items reinforces the lesson and also helps the students explain to their parents what they did." 
Both teachers emphasized the opportunity that this event holds for the high school students, "It's really a win-win for both of the classes," said Weber, "the elementary students have role models and learn that they have to listen to the high school students and at the same to it's an opportunity for the high school students to interact and demonstrate what they know."
Sliefert noted that "It boosts the older students self-esteem, they can feel positive about themselves knowing that they can pass on their knowledge to the younger students."

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