I’m always looking at environmental education as action and not information so I like projects that are authentic, tangible and experiential. Of course, these projects also need to tie into the curriculum.
Project based learning helps students take ownership of their learning. In this case art is used to help connect the students with nature yet in a way that encourages interaction and learning. With the instruction of Ivan Bratko, students were asked to select local native bird species and create an anatomically correct model for display on a group art piece. They focused on zooming in on the details of the bird to make an accurate representation of physiological structure of the birds bodies. In doing so, they recognized many unique adaptions of their chosen species. Bird feeders were setup near the classroom for living observation and field guides and birding resources were also made available for study.
At the completion of the project, students proudly celebrated the unveiling at the Essex County Environmental Center’s Earth Day Celebration with the congratulations of the Essex County Executive and certificates acknowledging their participation.