Exploring the Banks of the Rio Chama

“An environment-based education movement–at all levels of education–will help students realize that school isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.”

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

The vast majority of our students have grown up in northern New Mexico. Many of them spend at least some time outside with their families. It’s very important to us to help our students learn about their local environment and to learn science in the context of their local environment.

In our 4th-6th grade River Classroom, we’ve been learning about Biology. On Wednesday we took our lessons to the Rio Chama, where we spent the day exploring the riparian ecosystem and learning about the types of animals and plants we find there.

Setting out on a hike
Learning about willows
Demonstrating one method of seed dispersal
Demonstrating one method of seed dispersal
We collected trash along the way
Mixing Plaster of Paris to create a cast of a raccoon track
Mixing Plaster of Paris
Mixing the plaster
Pouring plaster into a track
Pointing out cool shapes in sandstone
We found a large nest

Exploring the bosque like this is a fantastic way to get kids started at observing the environment around them. Our students were quite excited and distracted for a bit, but after a while they began making excellent observations of the world around them.

After our hike, we took a time out for lunch.

This student found a gorgeous spot to eat.

After lunch we took the time to prepare a few slides so that we can look at more plant and animal cells the next time we meet.

Preparing a slide
Dipping a slide in fixative
Placing a slide cover on a slide

It was a wonderful day of exploration, and our students left knowing much more about the Rio Chama and it’s ecosystem. Getting our students outside is one of our most important goals!



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