Deer Isle Students Reopen School Nature Trail

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Guest blog post by: Mickie Flores, Deer Isle Stonington Elementary School

The seventh and eighth graders at Deer Isle Stonington Elementary School took science out of the classroom this Fall, collecting and analyzing data on the school's old nature trail, and now the students are ready to reopen the trail to the public this upcoming spring. Everyone has been hard at work identifying native species and learning about the relationships between the living and nonliving components of the site as they cleared the trail, which now extends from the elementary school playground toward the high school.

The project was developed in collaboration with the Vital Signs team, the Island Heritage Trust, the Great Schools Partnership. One mutual goal was to illustrate how an out of classroom learning experience in science can serve as a demonstration of proficiency.

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Photo by Mickie Flores

The students were asked to reflect on what they had learned during their September-November endeavors. One student commented, “I learned more by being out of the classroom because I was able to firsthand see what I was researching. It wasn't in a book that another person wrote. It was in front of me, ready to be researched and catalogued by me.” Another added, “When I'm in the classroom and the teacher is talking, it is hard to focus but when we are outside and taking data I can engage. It is better to act like a real scientist and really do it than read about doing it.”

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Photo by Craig KesselHeim, GSP

Representative Walter Kumiega visited the school to talk with students about their work. Afterwards, he commented in a facebook post:

    I think the students understand how lucky they are to have educators that will take the time and effort required to make this possible. In this era of standardized tests and grading schools it is easy to say "we don't have time for anything else". Lucky for this community we have teachers that realize there's more to education than books and computers.

Due to a snowstorm in early December, the official ribbon cutting of the trail has been postponed until the spring. In the meantime, students are selling calendars that they put together of photos from the Nature trail. Stay tuned for more information!