Time is just flying by and I can not believe we are already so close to mid season. I guess when you love what you do, you don’t realize where the days go. This week we had the chance to run a program out on Spectacle Island for the Mckay school called Buddy Bison. This program was organized by the National Park Trust Organization and funded by North Face, its main focus is to get kids out to their national parks. The group was fairly large so we decided to split in 4 subgroups of 20 kids. I was with Ranger Connor co-leading the “black panthers” group. We used visual thinking strategies to tell the Spectacle Islands’s tale of new beginnings. Our group was predominantly latino, and I was really happy to have the opportunity facilitate their experience in spanish if needed. It was really funny when the kids realized I spoke spanish, a few did not believe me and “tested” me by asking me questions in spanish. When they realized I was telling the truth I definitely felt that a connection was made. The students quickly became really comfortable with Ranger Connor as well as myself, asking us questions about the activity and telling us the information they already knew. Our group was truly amazing, they stayed very engaged and invested, even though it was a million degrees out.
Here is a 2 minute video that the National Park trust put together. I believe it captures our day pretty accurately! Full of Fun and Buddy Bisons!
A foggy Saturday morning, we arrived hands full of boxes, cables and misting machines. “Why a misting machine, when you have mother earth right?” We all low key panic, but smile and walk to our set up tent. “All the planning put into this event and a little fog might ruin it” I think to myself “Stop, you have to stay positive” — Sail Boston had arrived and the weather was not really on our side.
Sail Boston is a tradition that welcomes crews and cadets from all over the world to the Boston Harbor. About fifty six sail boats from thirteen different nations had embarked in a long journey to the harbor, but the weather conditions were so bad that their arrival was delayed. Nevertheless, we began setting up our engagement tent in the pavilion of the Charlestown navy yard. We prepared a series of fun family activities, a scavenger hunt, button making(as a prize for completing the scavenger hunt), a relay station , kite making, write a letter to a sailor, message in a bottle, and cork boats.
Throughout the day, I was really interested in seeing how engaging the stations would be, and I tried to keep track of which station worked for what age group. To my surprise, I noticed that our most engaging station was the kite making, followed up by the cork boat making station. Also kids of all ages really engaged with both stations. I believe that the reason why these stations were so popular is that the kids could see, touch and keep their end product. It made me think about how a project might work in a similar way. The story map I am creating, that will share the experiences of the summer connections program, will help the kids leave Thompson Island with an “end product” like the kite or cork boat. They can share this story map with their friends, teachers, and family, and be proud and excited to show off what they learned and where they went. I hope my final project actually accomplishes this goal and I will keep you guys updated on the progress of that! For now I will continue to work on it and learn more and more about base-placed learning.
Take thirty seconds to look at this picture and tell me: What do you see? What do you think is happening? Describe how the environment is/feels? Students take a second to observe the picture. I think to myself how is this activity going to play out with the kids. This is my first time really working with such a large group of young kids, and I have no idea the level of interaction we will get. “If there is no participation then what? Kids don’t really feel the need to speak when it is awkward.” But just like that I saw many hands go up. I was so impressed by the amount of enthusiasm I saw in these kids faces. They really wanted to share their opinion, their views.
This week we welcomed a few new education team members. Throughout their training and familiarization, we went over visual learning and how we will be using it on a program on Friday. I was a little skeptical on how this new learning tool would work with fourth graders. I couldn’t really see how kids would interact with the activity. However, when I saw it in action I truly understood the power of allowing kids to discover the answers by themselves, like detectives. I also believe I underestimated these kids. Some of the questions and poems they came up with at the end of their activity, were incredible. The more experience I gain, it really reinforces my drive to fully commit to the educational field
The third week had come to an end, and Summer Connections is more than halfway done! The students got to explore two ecosystems this week: the meadow and the forested woodlands. A meadow is a field habitat vegetated by grass and other non-woody plants. Forested woodlands are habitats covered with trees and shrubs. Both of these ecosystems are known for their high biodiversity, thus making them ideal areas for students to explore and discover.
During this week the students learned what entomologists are, and what their careers, as field scientists, consist off. An entomologist is a scientist that studies insects such as beetles, ants, butterflies, etc. The students explored the micro-wilderness of the two ecosystems with the same tools entomologists use: aspirators, field journals, butterfly nets, beating sheets, jars with magnifying caps and vials.
Craig demonstrating how to put together a beating sheet.
Once the students arrived to the site they circled up and located themselves on a map. Then they took a few minutes to write careful observations and sketch what they noticed, what they wondered, and what they were reminded of.
Exploration time! After writing down their observations the students ventured into the meadows and woods with their tools, catching all kinds of insects. To help further their understanding of the micro-wilderness, the students counted insects and used their field guides to help identify them. The students found a variety of insects including moths, worms, crickets, and bumble bees.
Students and ranger Matt trying to identify the captured insects.
The summer is really flying by, but what a great week this was! Students not only explored what it means to be a real entomologist, but some of them also conquered their bug phobias. Tune in next week to hear about the students’ adventures on the Salt Marsh!
This week I jumped right into the job. I began by familiarizing myself with the geologic inventory and brainstorming ideas of how I could reorganize the information to a more user-friendly educational database. An approach I have decided to use is a Story Map or an interactive Map, in order to spatially relate the information to the location of each geologic features that can be found on the islands.
During the week I also had the opportunity to prep and lead, with our team, a tidal pool exploration program for 6 graders. It was a fairly large group that split in 4 groups of 20. Ranger Rebecca and I lead one of those groups. The kids were great! I was very amazed by the amount of interest that they had and knowledge. The idea of the program was for each pair of students to create a healthy ecosystem in a bucket, and then share it with the group. All of them did a great job! It was truly a lovely experience to see them so interested and engaged.
On Saturday, my last work day of the week, I got to participate on stewardship Saturdays a volunteer group organized by the natural resource department. The day focused in manual invasive plant removal, to maintain the biodiversity of the island. Having the opportunity to see my old team and long-term volunteers was quite a treat. It was great to catch up with them, as well as get to know new volunteers. Overall, this week was fantastic. I got to experience my first youth program with the educational team, as well as seeing and working with my old team.
Looking back on the last five days, friendships have been made and team names have been assigned! The second week of Summer Connections has ended and it has been a ball. The students got to explore the intertidal zone this week — a very rich but hard ecosystem in which to survive. The intertidal zone is the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide. Organisms that live in this ecosystem have adapted to the harsh and extreme conditions of this environment.
During this week students also got some more hands-on practice doing what scientists do, and exploring, with more depth, what it means to be a scientist. On their walk down to the ecosystem, they engaged in a solo sensory walk through the forest, where they focused on listening to their surroundings. Some of the things the students heard were:
Once we arrived to the ecosystem, field journals were distributed. Students took about five minutes to locate themselves on a map. If you take a look on the map you will see yellow stars; those represent the students’ guesses of their location. The red and green arrows represent the start and end point of their walk down to the intertidal zone. The students also took some time to observe and write down observations about this ecosystem with the headings of: “I notice, I wonder, and it reminds me off.”
Yazmarie’s field observations
Last but most importantly, EXPLORATION TIME! The students headed down the beach in the search of biotic and abiotic factors. Their last task of the day as scientists exploring the intertidal zone was to make numerical observations by counting Asian Shore Crabs that were found. Asian shore crabs are Japanese invasive species that came to North America and have successfully reproduced and thrived.
Overall, it was an amazing week discovering the mysteries of the intertidal zone. Each week the students are learning more and more of what it really means to be a field scientist; taking detailed notes, making careful observations, using a map to locate themselves while collecting data about specific species. Next week, they will explore the forested woodlands and meadows, a very different ecosystem, with new opportunities to grow, learn and discover.
It was a week of new beginnings. The students met their teachers, facilitators, and rangers while beginning to discover the ecosystems that Thompson Island has to offer. Thompson is truly an island of infinite stories; it has a vast history that ranges from geological processes that shaped the island and harbor to the personal stories of the many groups that inhabited the island over time. Currently, the Summer Connections students are adding to this history by simply learning about the island.
During this week’s field program, students learned skills that enabled them to uncover these stories; they practiced making careful observations with their four senses while visiting three ecosystems: A salt marsh, an intertidal, and a forested woodlands and meadows. Students will be using these important skills throughout the whole program to gather information for their final project.
So what are some of the things the students observed?
On their way down to the first ecosystem, the students used their sense of sight to match biotic and abiotic objects to paint cards. It is very important for a scientist to be aware of their surroundings paying attention to as much detail as possible.
“I see a bird and a lot of water around”
“I notice the water is moving”
“What I notice is that 2 cm down the sand is wet, maybe the water comes up to this level?”
My name is Sophia Bass Werner and I am the 2017 mosaics intern for the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. I am originally from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, but have been living in Massachusetts for the past 10 years. You may be wondering why I choose to stay local when applying for this internship. Well, I have a long history with the Boston Harbor Islands I could not let go off. I have worked for them on and off for a period of about 4 years in a variety of internships and temp positions. A year ago, I graduated college from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a Environmental Science Bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately I was not able to lock up a permanent position with the park, and for the past year I was in between jobs hoping to find something that focused on my career. To my luck, the Boston Harbor Islands was going to hire an intern through the mosaics internship program, which my previous supervisor encouraged me to apply; and so I did.
Every time I have returned to the Boston Harbor Islands has been incredible! It always is like coming back home. However, this time around will be a little bit different. The past years my work has mostly focused in the management of natural resources. This summer however I will be transitioning into education. My internship this year focuses in enhancing the educational programs for kids of the Greater Boston area, as well as creating a interactive map summarizing the geologic inventory for educational use. I am very excited for this great learning opportunity! I know I will have my ups and downs but I am definitely ready and up for the challenge.
STEAM, it is the first time I have heard this term with an A. The full acronym stands for Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and art. How do you incorporate art with the rest of the terms? I couldn’t see a connection, until I joined the STEAM team. Our focus has been to asses the status of current citizen science and science literacy programs, evaluate possible new programs and report on useful tools that may help us improve both types of programs. In order to gather this data, we have interviewing stakeholders, such as educators, scientist, citizen science specialist, and youth and outreach coordinators. This week we interviewed a woman that works for the encyclopedia of life. She showed us a lot of very helpful tool that allows anyone to create species deck cards. These cards have a picture and some basic information of the specie. Immediately, I could see how Summer Connections could benefit from this tool. The students’ final project consists of creating a report on one organism. Then all of the organisms get put together to create a book. Instead of this book we could use the deck of cards as their final project. I am excited to see what other tools can help us improve the park programs.