CLASSROOM IN THE WOODS Students go WILD



By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Several dozen Poland Seminary High School students took their in-class learning to the woods Tuesday in a cross-curriculum activity that combined science and physical education.
Throughout the day about 86 students in Mark Covell's physical education classes and Troy Massey's science classes left the school with backpacks and compasses for Poland Municipal Forest and four outdoor education activities.
First on the agenda was a walk through the woods and an explanation of its history and interesting facts.
Massey said one of the goals of the field trip was to show students the beauty and activity in the woods. He said many students were unaware of the trails and wildlife in the forest.
There was also a lesson on using nature and/or compasses to determine location and the best means of getting to safety in an emergency.
Covell led the students through the exercise. He took them to a designated spot and explained how to use the sun, moss on trees or the flow of the stream to determine direction.
Watershed activity: Mary June Emerson, educational specialist at the Mahoning Soil and Water Conservation District, led the participants through a watershed activity. A watershed is land used by water as it travels to a stream, river or lake.
The students studied how the watershed in the Poland woods has been altered by humans. Massey said most of the students do not realize that everyday activities such as washing the car or rinsing off the sidewalk in front of their homes affects the water flow in the creek.
Small groups of students set up camp along Yellow Creek near the Mouthe Bridge to test the water quality.
Massey said students, with the use of nets, scooped samples of organisms and placed them in one of three categories to determine water quality -- pollution sensitive, pollution intermediate or pollution tolerant.
Massey said the group found all three types of organisms, but a high amount of pollution-sensitive organisms, which indicates that the water quality in the stream is good.
"Anytime we can get our students involved in a hands-on activity, learning is enhanced. Students often wonder if they will ever use the information they learn in a class like science or physical education.
"It is activities such as this that brings it all together for them," Massey said.

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