Washington Middle School fifth- and sixth-graders are prepared to forge their own trails, thanks to a trip to the Audubon Society.
Thursday, fifth-grade students in Patty Lefford's math class spent their morning utilizing the math skills that they have been working on throughout the school year by learning about orienteering. Today, the sixth-grade students are doing the same.
"Each year, I try to do a little something different, a special unit. Each year we do a different end-of-the-year activity to use real-life math skills from the year's curriculum. We spend a lot of time talking about measurement and angle measures," Mrs. Lefford said.
Math specialist Patty Lefford, shows her fifth-grade students, Jamere Maisonet and Hayden Guichard, where a woodpecker has made marks in an ash tree at the Audubon on Thursday.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
At the Audubon, the students learned how to read a compass in order to find their way through trails to a prize at the end.
Recently, the Audubon offered an orienteering workshop, which demonstrated basic compass use and measuring distance for orienteering. Orienteering offers an alternative to using technology to find direction.
Mrs. Lefford and her daughter attended the Audubon's workshop. Afterward, Mrs. Lefford decided that it would be a fun way to show her classes how to apply what they have learned about measurement.
"I asked Katie Finch, one of the naturalists here who led the workshop, if I could come and use the facility. So, she volunteered to set up a compass course for us," Mrs. Lefford said.
In addition to receiving help from Katie Finch and the Audubon, there was a partnership with Mark Baldwin, education director for the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, who provided that compasses for the class.
Mrs. Lefford said that she also wrote and received a grant from the Jamestown School Forest Association, which covered the cost of transportation for her students over the two days.
"So, it was a free trip. All I had to do was teach them how to use a compass, read a compass, how a compass works, and then we used the course. And, the idea is that when you get to the end of the course, you find a cache box that has a prize in it," Mrs. Lefford said.
Reading the compass also helped tie some history into the lesson for the students, as well as math and science.
"What I say to them is, 'You guys are used to having easy electronics for all of your answers, but how do you think people made maps or found their way to follow a path that somebody else did?' So, we learned about trail-making," Mrs. Lefford said.
The fifth-grade students said that they enjoyed their trip to an outdoor classroom. Kenzie Haines said that the most exciting part of the day, for her, was being out in nature and experiencing new things. Meanwhile, Bradley Farrar enjoyed being out in the woods.
"I've learned what animals are in the holes, what animals made them. And, I learned what poison ivy looks like," said Christina Eddy.
Luckily for Christina and her friends, they steered away from the poison ivy, and stayed on the orienteering trails.