By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Third grade classes from Mountain Avenue Elementary School have experienced a new perspective and appreciation for nature after the students participated in a field trip to the Rosemont Preserve.
The opportunity for a hands-on learning experience heightened the students’ knowledge of the relationships between plant life, wildlife and geological formations in the natural sanctuary. The classes traveled to the preserve on separate days and were given the opportunity to study nature up close in small groups as part of a larger effort to strengthen the students’ understanding of and enjoyment for science.
The students were joined by incoming Glendale Unified School District President Nayiri Nahabedian and Mountain Avenue Principal Rebeca Witt.
“It’s great that the preserve is so close to our school, it’s a great connection to the life sciences and presents an opportunity for them to read about it and then feel it, touch it, smell it,” explained Witt. “The upcoming standards really put a focus on critical thinking. This type of event moves beyond the standards; it gets the kids asking questions, which is really what we are looking for.”
Spanning 7.75 acres at the top of Rosemont Avenue, the Rosemont Preserve is a land sanctuary preserved by the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy. Further clearing and trail construction was built with a volunteer effort by local Boy Scouts as part of an Eagle Scout project. The Preserve is maintained by local volunteers.
Field trips such as those to the preserve offer students a connection to the community and serves as a reminder of what life used to be like in the foothills before it was populated by humans.
“They retain the information in this kind of environment, which is so important as they go into fifth grade, or sixth grade, or beyond,” said teacher Jennifer Garrubba, whose class traveled to the preserve on Tuesday. “The students love the hands-on element of being outside and it builds a wonderful social experience as well.
The life science standards for third grade students in California include the concept of adaptation and its role in nature. By touring the preserve, students were able to witness the effects of adaptation firsthand by observing the variation present in the individual ecosystems.
The effectiveness of educational trips like these linked to the integration of the material in the classroom standards to the experience the students enjoy in the field. Texts and curriculum related to third grade standards such as Native American life, life cycles, and adaptation are brought to life in the natural environment.
“We are excited about what we can develop. There are units about Native American and indigenous life that tie in well to the preserve,” said Witt. “This is a great opportunity not just for our school, but for other schools.”
On this trip, the focus for the students was on the concept of adaptation and its role in nature. Classes were introduced to the relationship between the plants and the watershed, learned about rock formation, and the function of tectonic plates.
“We had the students analyzing the color of the plants and their significance, bringing them to understand why and how things happen in nature,” remarked Archana Sudamalla, a parent who volunteered on the trip and helped relate the experience at the preserve to the state standards. “What we can see here are the real time implementations of science and nature.”
In addition to the field trip, the students were required to complete an in-class component to give the experience context, followed up with a field log in which they answered questions about what they experienced with their senses.
“This all shows the importance of community. We are out here enjoying a project developed by an Eagle Scout with a retired teacher, a librarian, and a number of parents all volunteering their time,” said Witt. “I’m a big supporter in engaging our students with the hopes they can one day return and contribute to the community with the type of effort you see here.”