Vol. 16 No. 1
In this issue...
GINLC Education Committee Report
April 19 & 26
Education Committee Report
In 2005, Richard Louv published the book "Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder." Louv's basic premise is that young children, especially preschool and early elementary ages, need outdoor experiences to develop their creativity, social and learning skills. These experiences involve both free play and guided experiences in natural settings.
This book has had a dramatic effect on our nation's educational system and has prompted many independent studies. All these studies have verified Louv's basic premise that children need outdoor experiences for healthy growth - mentally, physically and socially.
The Education Committee has been very active in thinking of ways to meet this challenge. We have had many discussions on ideas for integrating outdoor education into the regular school curriculum and into the thinking of our community. The basis for many of these ideas is the Conservancy's "Landscape for Learning" program originating in 2002. This plan calls for developing outdoor learning centers around each school and the curriculum to go with them.
To create workable programs, we have had discussions with Cranbrook Institute of Science; the University of Michigan, Dearborn; and Ann Arbor; the Education Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; "Earth Works," formerly "Experiencia," on Allen Road; and with the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge staff.
Our first outdoor learning centers are the boulder gardens now present at each school. The boulders are in place, and by late spring we expect to have interpretive plaques in each area. We also are preparing a teacher's manual on the boulders and on local geology to make integration into their schedules easier for teachers. Much of the funding for this project has come from donations by the Grosse Ile Rotary Club and the Richard and Rosalind Meyer Family Foundation.
Currently under discussion is the creation of more learning centers in the landscaping of the high school following construction completion, the creation of drainage swales and rain gardens in conjunction with the repaving of the Middle School parking lot this summer, student access to the water front at the Middle School and guided field trips to natural areas and to "Earth Works."
Within the classrooms, we are exploring acquisition of "Living Machines." These machines include cages where children can raise caterpillars, watch them form cocoons and then watch the mature butterflies emerge. The children would then release them in a natural area. The same idea will permit children to raise tadpoles, watch them become frogs and also release them into natural area. We also have acquired a small library of books on nature and projects for children.
We are exploring field trips for art and creative writing classes to local nature areas, the formation of a photography club for nature photography, all with public displays for the art and photographs. In addition, we have been approached by several authors and naturalists to present lectures and demonstrations to school classes and to the public on nature subjects.
It is our hope that many of these ideas will become reality this spring and next fall.