Rivers to Sea School Program at Long Pasture Educates Teachers Too
April 20, 2023
Mass Audubon’s Cape Cod education team is excited to return to offering professional development to teachers with whom they partner on a statewide watershed curriculum called Rivers to Sea.
Education manager Catie Fyfe says professional development was on hold during the COVID epidemic. But last month, teachers with Barnstable Intermediate School and several other Mid and Upper Cape schools were invited to Long Pasture for two days of learning about vernal pools and watersheds.
“They spent one day collecting and learning about the macroinvertebrates in the vernal pools at Long Pasture with sanctuary director Ian Ives,” says educator David Shapiro, who helps teach the Rivers to Sea curriculum. “The second day featured a panel discussion with representatives from several water quality-focused organizations: Andrew Gottlieb of the APCC, Kelly Barber of the Barnstable Land Trust and Hans Keijser of Barnstable Water Supply,” he adds.
Learning & Sharing
Catie says the two-day program at Long Pasture gave teachers a chance to supplement both their knowledge of vernal pool ecology but also to share tips about classroom resources. “They recommended books to each other as well as equipment, such as the best water quality test kits and hand lenses that worked well with kids,” Catie says.
The teachers seemed to appreciate the Long Pasture experience. As one Barnstable Intermediate teacher put it: “At first, I admit, I knew nothing about the watershed or vernal pools. But after attending the workshops at Long Pasture, I am very excited to turn this into a part of our curriculum each year. Gather data, compare the seasons, and expose the kids to things they never even thought about!”
Challenges of Accessing “Nearby Nature”
Catie says teachers also shared the difficulty of getting students outdoors, even though their schools have their own vernal pools right on site. “It’s a difficult ratio—one teacher to one class,” Catie notes. “It’s not easy to do an activity without another adult or two to help supervise. Our programs allow students and teachers to experience the nature just outside their classroom with hands-on activities and a chance to practice science skills.”
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