The day was nice – cool and just a little overcast, and the company was good, though at times a little loud.
In other words, the day was perfect for a visit to the Dallenbach Nature Center, part of annual science field trip for sixth-graders.
“It’s part of our ecology unit,” said district Science Supervisor Trudi Atkins. “It’s really part of our first two units of student, ecology and succession, and it sort of just sets the stage for their learning for the entire year.”
Students that attend the all-day field trip spend their time walking through the woods of , visiting different science stations set up by Hammarskjold science teachers and learning lessons about how the forest, stream and nearby lake were formed and why things are they way they are in the forest. The lessons at the park can be directly traced back to science lessons from the classroom, textbooks and homework assignments.
“A lot of our elementary schools are getting on board with outside learning areas,” said Atkins. “It’s a true of all the subjects, you can’t write something without you seeing it, or hearing or smelling it.”
At Dallenbach, teachers take those classroom lessons and give real world examples, including how erosion forms a stream, the parts of a leaf, what different colors of a soil sample mean, canopies and gaps in the woods, plant and wild life and more. Students often come away from the lesson able to understand more fully what these classroom concepts mean once they have seen them in the real world.
“I really think it accomplishes many goals in that it puts them out in he community and lets them see what East Brunswick has to offer from an ecology stand point,” said Atkins. “We bring students from all living areas, so maybe some kids live in apartments. Maybe some live in a house that backs up to a brook or a stream, maybe some back up to a park, but not everybody has all of those things. Kind of allow them to appreciate what their own environment has to over.”
The Dallenbach trip is a bookend to the year-end three-day field trip to the Fairview YMCA Camp in Sussex County.