More than four thousand western UP students will spend time learning outdoors this school year thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Wege Foundation recently provided to the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. The Center’s Outdoor Science Investigations Field Trip Program is open to elementary and middle school students in all 19 school districts in Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Keweenaw counties. Last year, the Field Trip Program engaged more than 4000 students in 200 classes from 14 schools in outdoor science learning, from physical and earth science, to forestry, wildlife, and stream monitoring.
Two activities are offered for each grade level during each season, led by the Center’s science specialist, Brian Doughty. Activities for younger students focus on exploration and observation. These field trips enhance classroom learning and provide real-world, hands-on experiences for students. All activities are correlated to Michigan Science Standards and connect to the school curriculum. The outdoor classroom allows students to utilize science and math skills, including observing, predicting, data-collection, analysis, and graphing.
During the winter field trip season, students are provided with snowshoes to incorporate physical exercise into their learning. Students investigate topics such as the “wind chill” effect, which materials make better insulators, and techniques used by wildlife to survive our cold, snowy winters. One teacher observed, “My students absolutely loved the program. Their favorite part was looking for decomposers, which made the food web a reality for them. Later on that day, one of my students was very excited because she found the word, ‘carnivore’ in her reading. This is just what we learned this morning!”
The Center’s mission is to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promote environmental stewardship amongst K-12 students and teachers. For more information about the Wege Foundation grant or the field trip program, contact Joan Chadde at 906-487-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org .