By Isiah REYES
For the third consecutive year, students from Mountain Avenue Elementary attended a docent-led field trip at the Rosemont Preserve to learn more about plate tectonics, faulting, soil erosion and the shaping of Earth’s surface and its various types of rocks.
This year’s group consisted of 40 sixth graders who visited the Rosemont Preserve on Oct. 20 and another 40 who visited the following day. The curriculum for the day was created with the help of two local geologists who volunteered time to help put together the materials and to train the docents.
“For kids to learn just in the classroom, it doesn’t have the same meaning that it has when they’re able to actually see it on the ground and experience it and put it to use,” said Aaron Attwater, a docent who has retired from formal teaching but still wants to teach kids. “The more that we bring our children out to nature and teach them science and help them appreciate the way that nature works, the better off our planet will ultimately be.”
The Oct. 20 field trip consisted of four groups of 10 students each that spent time at different spots throughout the preserve. One of the spots was near a water tower where the kids learned about the water cycle and surface runoff, including the pros and cons. They also learned a little about where their water comes from and why it wouldn’t be a good idea to build a home at this location (it is a flood area).
Another spot included an earthquake model. It helped the kids visualize what happens when a tectonic plate moves and what is looks like when the energy forces build up and release during an earthquake.
Friends of the Rosemont Preserve board member Barbara Nielsen said that learning in nature is a great way to reinforce what students learn in the classroom, bringing what students learn to reality for them.
“We show them the three main categories of rocks including igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary,” Nielsen said. “And I walk them up the canyon where they can actually see the sedimentary rocks so that they can actually feel it and experience it hands on.”
Leslie Dickson, field trip coordinator for the Rosemont Preserve, does outreach with local schools asking teachers if they would be willing to put the Preserve on their calendar for a visit. If the teachers are interested, a date is chosen and Dickson goes out looking for docents. The docents have to be people who like children and like to teach.
“Children learn better when they’re moving around, looking, touching, smelling and doing things,” Dickson said. “And if we can do that for them, then I think it makes a world of a difference.”
Currently, there are third, fourth and sixth grade students who have a curriculum that aligns with what the Rosemont Preserve has to offer. For example, the third graders who visit learn about the Chumash Indians and native plant life. Other schools that have attended in the past include Horace Mann Elementary in Glendale and a few private schools.
Friends of the Rosemont Preserve board members are looking to expand their services to include other Crescenta Valley elementary schools.
Paul Rabinov of the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve said their mission is preservation, restoration and education, and the education tenet is for everyone – not just children.
“The education is not only just for the kids but for the community at large,” Rabinov said. “It helps the kids specifically with what they’re learning in class but also in understanding what is here in our local community in Crescenta Valley. The Rosemont Preserve shows what we have in our backyard and it gives everybody, not just the kids, an opportunity to learn about the natural environment and how we get our water.”