Their teachers, Julie Hays, Todd Lucas, Paige Keim and Ashleigh Helfrich, chaperoned the two-hour field trip to WACF, located south of Syracuse.
The field trip was a way to fulfill the engineering standards of building something whose structure or design meets a particular job it’s supposed to do. The task: develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate and investigate how the shape of an object helps it function, as needed, to solve an identified problem.
“That standard was what prompted the entire second-grade field trip about birds. So, we thought what can we do in nature?” explained Pam Schumm, a volunteer and WACF board member.
Schumm said the key elements of the field trip were to learn about nature and build something that would have a purpose.
Prior to arrival, students were divided into three groups. Upon arrival, the students gathered in the pavilion for a short introduction and expectations. Then groups rotated around each of three activity stations; each station lasted about 30 minutes.
Activity stations were taught by seven WACF volunteers. Activities included making a bird beak, which Schumm handled. The students had to try and pick up “food” with their beak and see which food was easiest for them to get in different environments. Habitats included a marsh, pond, prairie and forest. Students worked in pairs with one working the beak and one holding a cup for the stomach. The pair tried each habitat for 30 seconds.
The second activities were bird feet, which they drew, and staying warm in winter. The students figured out ways for birds to stay warm in winter. They did this by securing branches for perching, a tree for climbing and a shallow bucket of water for wading and swimming, and a stuffed animal for talons. These objects were used to illustrate different kinds of environments.
“That was so cool,” said Schumm. “They also enjoyed fun finger painting.”