1st in a 2-part series featuring NorthBay’s “NEXT” program.
Last week, several fellow NorthBay educators and I had an opportunity to visit the fifth graders of Mother Mary Harris Jones Elementary School in Adelphi, MD. As a result of the NEXT program I have been able to work with the fifth graders at MMHJ exclusively this year, and the relationship is certainly growing from these continued visits. As we enter their school, they recognize their NorthBay friends and know that they are in for an awesome day!
During this particular visit the students learned about nitrates and phosphates that can be found in our bays and streams. We completed an activity which allowed students to chemically test water samples for Ph, phosphates and nitrates. Every child was engaged, and ready so see their test tubes change colors! The test results yielded one sample that was high in phosphates and another that was neutral. At the end of the experience, I revealed to them that one water sample came from the tap, and the other was resourced from our turtle tank here at NorthBay (ultimately indicating the presence of turtle poop!). The children made a connection to phosphates that day that they would never forget!
After completing our classroom lessons, we were excited to speak with the principal of Mother Mary Harris Jones, Dr. Karen Woodson. Dr. Woodson explained, in a very heartfelt way, that she loves how NorthBay’s NEXT program engages her students in environmental education and character growth. She shared her appreciation of how we take an entire group of children outside that otherwise would not have the opportunity.
The last thing Dr. Woodson shared was her appreciation of the vocabulary that we teach the children. I found it peculiar that we taught words such as phosphate and nitrates that day, but she reminded us that as the students learn these words, it increases their knowledge. They will have an experience that they can remember forever and apply to their life in special ways. That is what NorthBay is all about. A positive learning experience that is fun and memorable for kids. We help kids learn about the environment and about themselves with a smile on their face, with the hope that they take that experience with them everywhere they go in life. And hey, maybe they will help someone else along the way.
NorthBay Educator – Shaq (Shaqueal Rouse)
NorthBay Stories is a blog series featuring staff from a variety of roles. Here we learn their stories, hear amazing adventures involving students, and discuss the field of environmental/character education at large.