Learning doesn’t always happen in the classroom. The Center for Lakes and Streams has been teaching students in outdoor classrooms since 2008.
On these field days – this year’s was held at Lucerne Park in Warsaw – staff from CLS and Grace College students set up learning stations to teach students from all over Kosciusko County about lake-related topics.
“There’s five different stations that the kids rotate through,” says Anna Burke, program manager at the Center for Lakes and Streams. “Each of them deals with a different water quality topic. The kids actually get to be scientists for the day.”
Burke says a lot of the curriculum is based on Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) Foundation’s lessons. Other is developed with the local ecosystem in mind. A lot of the stations involve games, hands-on demonstrations or other fun activities, like fishing.
“It’s amazing with all the lakes in the county, there’s actually a ton of kids who’ve never fished before,” Burke says. “We actually had one fish caught yesterday. It’s a minor miracle considering how much commotion there is.”
Other stations include a watershed model, showing how water drains from land into large bodies of water. Students learn a little bit about what affects water quality at the common water station. The water monitoring station allows students to test a sample of water for temperature, pH, nitrates and phosphorous.
CLS’s outdoor classroom is very popular with local educators. “We have anywhere from 700 to 800 students attend each year,” says Burke. “When I opened registration, every spot was filled in 48 hours.”
Burke says some teachers write her thank you notes. She even had a fourth grader tell her it was the best field trip he’d ever attended.
“We hope that their learning two things: to actually enjoy the lakes and the streams and to realize this is a really valuable resource around here,” Burke says. “And having some sense of what they can do to take care of it.”
Thanks to sponsors The Papers Inc., Biomet, Culver Family Foundation, Kosciusko Community Foundation, Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Lake Tippecanoe Property Owners Association and the city of Warsaw, CLS is able to bus in kids from Eisenhower Elementary, Harrison Elementary, Sacred Heart, Syracuse Elementary, Warsaw Christian, Washington STEM Academy, Claypool Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Leesburg Elementary, Milford School, and North Webster Elementary. Even a group of home school children came out to enjoy the edu-tainment.