grants in action:
wetlands ecosystem 

Q: How has the SEF grant made a difference?

The SEF Grant has been an empowering opportunity for our 6th grade students to experience the work of scientists and professionals in the field. Working outside at the new Gates Campus’ vernal pool/ wetlands site has made it possible to expand students’ application of knowledge through a very real and hands on experience. This kind of learning is exciting, and very motivational for students.

On a larger scale, SEF has enriched the Scituate community's access to a variety of educational opportunities and experiences, making multiple projects possible through funding. This has been a very important reminder of the value and priority this community places on education, which is an investment in the future of Scituate.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received from program participants?

All positive!  Students are very excited to get outside and learn about their school grounds. Fresh air, observational data collecting, and hands on experiences have contributed to students’ excitement about science, as well as a sense of stewardship related to their own school environment. Parents who participated as Field Work Volunteers agree that students have gotten a lot out of the experience.

Q: What have you been able to do with help from SEF grant?

The Living Laboratory Grant has enabled Scituate’s secondary science faculty to attend a lecture by Ian Ives, of Cape Cod Audubon. Mr. Ives then brought faculty out to the site and shared information about educational potential of such a space (citing many existing models of wetland and vernal pool outdoor classrooms found on Cape Cod). An evening with Ian Ives was also offered to local community members and parents.

In addition, a recent “Field Work Day” welcomed Don Salvatore, local author, naturalist, and educator to work with 6th graders to do a “site survey” of the pond site. Amy Quist from Audubon's North River Wildlife Sanctuary joined us, as well as several Scituate High School students. An “offshoot” of this SEF grant has empowered Jill Suddath (6th grade science teacher), and I to begin to assemble a “Field Work Corp”, of community professionals, High School staff and students, and parents. This Corp would enable the large groups of students to work in much smaller groups, allowing for a richer educational experience. Our hope is to continue to assemble a large available crew for any time we have Field Work days, in Science, and potentially other subjects.

Additionally, grant funds will allow us to welcome Jason Zimmer, Southeast District Supervisor for Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, who will be working with students in the Spring of 2018 to identify and monitor species, and possibly assist as we take steps to officially get the vernal pool certified. Mr. Zimmer will also be providing student resources, such as field guides to vernal pools. This was the scope for Living Laboratory Phase 1.

Living Laboratory Phase 1 was very purposefully named so that stakeholders would become familiar with the educational potential of this wetlands site. The intent was to teach our faculty, incoming 6th graders, and families about Vernal Pools and surrounding ecosystems. This grant has already made these objectives possible, and we look forward to the continued support of the Scituate Education Foundation.

Dori Read
6th Grade Science Teacher, Team A
Lester J. Gates Middle School
Scituate, Massachusetts

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