As we continued our study of the frog pond this week, we have expanded our understanding of which individual species live there and why. This exploration has included a deeper look into some of abiotic factors of the pond by taking temperature readings, measuring its depth, and determining how deep sunlight can penetrate the water with a Secchi Disk. Each student has selected an individual species that we have found at the pond and will illustrate the different levels of the ecosystem that their individual is a part of, including its population and community. I was disappointed to miss a day of school this week because these intrepid explorers continue to find new and exciting things and ask deep and insightful questions that will propel our studies.
By Emily Bell-Hoerth (Grades 3/4 teacher)
This week we worked at the pond and we made pictures of things we wanted to study. We were catching animals in our nets and then we would work on an animal we would like to study. We would also identify frogs or salamanders or any other biotic or abiotic things. It would always be very fun because we would look for Travis the turtle and even though we haven’t found him yet, the whole class wants to find him. Travis is a [small] Snapping Turtle that Emily released into the pond last year and I want to meet him. We used a Secchi Disk and a thermometer. The Secchi Disk is for how deep [and murky] the water is and every knot [along the rope] is a quarter of a meter. The thermometer we used to see how cold or warm the water was and it was 54.9 degrees F. Next week we are going to study the salt marsh and I think that’s going to be really fun.
– Student – Grade 3
We are deep into our salt marsh studies, in every possible sense. Our bookshelf is overflowing with resources about plants, birds, molluscs, crustaceans, and mammals that can be found in the marsh. Pages of notes are spilling out of students’ folders, and rubrics are being referenced to guide the writing of research papers. Exclamations of strange and interesting facts can be heard during moments of focused work. “Did you know that periwinkles graze on algae?” and “I figured out why we see salt on the cordgrass- it’s not left from the tides, but because the plant sucks in the salty water through its roots and expels it through the leaves!” Chewonki staff are also being used as resources so that students can interview them to glean more information about everything from bird sighting to the history of making salt marsh hay here at the farm. And yes, we are still finding ourselves deep in the ‘literal’ marsh- observing fish in pools, peering at salt marsh snails attached to the base of cordgrass (notice the snail in the left photo by Harriet- staying cool and moist under the leaf at low tide), and using binoculars to view birds flying over. We actually plan to have Spartina campsite become our classroom next week so that we can spend the entire day working outside while observing tidal changes, animal activity, and whatever else comes our way.
By Kat Cassidy (Lead teacher / Grades 5/6 teacher)
On Monday we went to the dining room and cooked for the entire Chewonki community. We had tons of fun cooking sweet potato and black bean patties, Maine whole-wheat bread, and applesauce cake. It was all incredibly delicious. I’m glad that everyone else had cooked here before, because it was my first time in an industrial kitchen. Seamus and I were partners and made some of the patties by using an ice cream scoop to measure a spoonful of the potato-bean mix, and then shaping the patties with our hands. Then we flipped the patties with spatulas on the big industrial stove.
-Student – Grade 6
This week in 7th grade we began our geography exploration by studying the very complicated organization of the United Kingdom which is where the main character of our book, Around the World in 80 Days, begins his journey. We also calculated an around the world journey using typical and also bizarre modes of transportation. One student traveled (on paper, that is) from New York to Lisbon, Portugal by goldfish and from Lisbon to Shanghai by cheetah. We also learned a common card game that was played in the book called Whist. Ultimate frisbee was introduced to the group this week and we have been playing it almost every snack break. Turns out we have some pretty good frisbee players and everyone is pretty equal in their skills, so we have had some really even, fun, and competitive games. Next week we are looking forward to a trip to the local library to support our studies of how the forest fits into the water cycle and connects the earth’s geosphere and hydrosphere.
By Trevor Slater (Grade 7 teacher)