Students participate in Chesapeake Bay Service Learning Experience

Patterson students net fish in the Chesapeake Bay (Photo: Ms. Warzer)

Patterson students participated in a Chesapeake Bay Watershed project with the Patterson Park Audubon Center during this past fall.

Chris Homeister, the Experience Educator with the Audubon Center, had this to say about working with Patterson students, “They showed great interest in the presentation and the accompanying activities.”

Two classes participated in the project: Mr. Hopp’s Environmental Science students and Mrs. Warzer’s ESOL students. First, the classes welcomed the guest speaker, Chris Homeister, into their rooms. They listened to a presentation on the Chesapeake Bay, and how humans can impact the Bay, both positively and negatively. Then, each class joined Mr. Homeister for a day on the Chesapeake Bay. There, the students used fishing rods, reels and nets to find and catch various species of fish. Students placed the fish in small aquariums and identified the species using Fish I.D. sheets. They also conducted water quality testing.

Later, each class joined Mr. Homeister in an environmental stewardship project. Mr. Hopp’s students planted trees on Patterson’s school grounds on October 23, 2013. Mrs. Warzer’s students went to Patterson Park and cleaned up trash on November 8, 2013. The students participated with great energy and were very helpful. The students made picking up trash into a “game”, where a student would earn “a point” for each piece of trash that they picked up.

“Each time someone spotted a piece of trash, all the boys and a few girls would sprint to the trash. It was fun to watch,” said Mr. Homeister.

Both Mrs. Warzer and Mr. Hopp were very pleased with the learning experience.

“The Audubon Watershed Experience was a true gift to my Environmental Science curriculum”, said Mr. Hopp. “Not only did my students learn by wading out in the waters and testing oxygen levels in the Bay, but they also made a positive impact on their own community’s environment. Ultimately, this experience has better connected our students with the gifts of the Chesapeake Bay by helping them develop advocacy leadership skills for their future.”

“ This was a terrific opportunity for our English Language learners to have a hands-on experience with the environment in their new home and learn the vocabulary and ideas related to environmental science”, explained Ms. Warzer. “We followed up by watching videos of water restoration projects in their home country regions, and having an environmental conference to discuss the projects as examples of the scientific method in action. The students’ response was truly ‘awesome’!”

The students were also very grateful for this unique experience.

“ I appreciate you for helping us to understand why the leaves are falling down and the colors are changing”, Yamen Khalil wrote in a thank you letter to the Audubon Society. “I liked learning about how we can be sure if the water is dirty or if it didn’t have enough oxygen. I am glad we helped to make Patterson Park clean.”

“ I learned to take care of the environment- not polluting the rivers, lakes, and beaches and taking care of the animals”, added Rocio Valdez. “If we take care of everything around us, it is going to be better for ourselves, our families and for the future.”

Finally, Chris Homeister had one more comment to add, “It was an honor to work with your staff and students this semester. I hope we can partner up again in the future. Take care and thanks for supporting our partnership with Patterson High School.”


(Photos: Ms. Warzer)

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