We have continued our work on local trails and are educating as many other students as we can about the local trail environments. April 26 was a day of showers, learning, and fun for our sixth-grade science group. We went into Milliken Mills Woods South and taught a group of about 50 third graders about the local wildlife and ecosystems. Kailee and Casey led one group of third graders, and Maddy and Savannah led the other to explore different routes. Mr. Smith from the Conservation Commission and Mrs. Nye accompanied us, but we guided the groups along the trail. We prepared for the trail trip by visiting the trail a few days in advance to plan the routes and practice our lesson for the third graders.
We read them the Raccoon Story while walking on the story trail. We showed them lichen, a bird nest, and Mr. Googins’s grave. We identified wintergreen for them, which they loved smelling and tasting, and wanted to take it home to make tea. They wanted to taste everything that was edible—partridge berry, wintergreen, hemlock needles–and we said, “No eating things in the woods today. You can come back with your family and eat things.” We didn’t want to be responsible if someone had an allergic reaction.
We showed them the wildflowers and American chestnut trees. Maddy explained how the blight kills the trees while they’re young, and how scientists are trying to grow a hybrid chestnut that is 1/16th Chinese chestnut, hoping the hybrid American chestnut will be able to fight off the blight. Some kids were more interested than others in the chestnut trees, but all liked the lichen, grave, and bird nest. We showed them a vernal pool and had to inform one student that it wasn’t clean enough to drink.
Most of the students seemed to love the trail. The rain and puddles made the walk a bit challenging, but we still had a great adventure. This was the kick-off event for the third grade’s community project. Some third graders have decided to make signs about the birds of Milliken Mills to help educate future visitors about birds they are likely to see on the trails. We had fun sharing our knowledge with younger students and seeing them get as excited about nature as we do.
—by Savannah, Kailee, Maddy, Casey, and Mrs. Nye