Environmental Studies at Millennium Park

Overview Millennium Park sited on a former landfill adjacent to West Roxbury High recently opened after years of planning and construction. Meeting with park engineers and organizers, students incorporated park-related studies into their curriculum and went on a Web Tour of careers in Biology/Ecology. Several students were motivated to design science projects around park themes. Covering a range of environmental investigations - earthworm examinations, soil erosion and seed germination, biodiversity in grass mixes - the projects received citywide notice with the erosion trial winning second place at the Boston Public Schools Science Fair. Neighborhood children and elders also learned the latest about their park when students shared information at Learning Festivals and nursing homes.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Review landfill history & current status of park.
Create digital posters mapping park elevation.
Write community field guides.
Make bird feeders.
Engage in biodiversity lesson.
Conduct erosion control with grasses experiment & related investigations.
Create digital posters of park grasses.
Plan Earth Day celebration/presentation.
Participate in park's grand opening.
Display posters at schoolwide sites & community centers.
Tag trees in park.
Hang bird feeders in park.
Present experiments at school, city, state science fairs, Service Learning festivals & neighborhood centers.
Display & present projects at schoolwide Earth Day celebration.
Meet & interact with community leaders at opening.
Plan activities with chief engineer & organizer.
Observe & discuss installation of turf & trees.
Take a teacher-designed Web Tour: Careers in Biology /Ecology.
Discuss maintenance with representatives from Parks & Recreation Dept.

Learning Standards Science

Understand human interaction with nature over time, technologies developed, benefits & consequences of our actions & the impact of science.
Communicate observation & experimentation results through models, illustrations & talks.
Gather scientific information through lab & field observation.
Use technologies to obtain, use & present information effectively.
Design & conduct scientific investigations.
Complete science exposition including whole class theme-based projects with individually differentiated tasks.

School to Career Competencies

Practice Communication & Literacy Skills.
Organize & Analyze Information.
Problem Solve.
Use Technology.
Understand All Aspects of the Industry.

Assessment This project lends itself well to Did I? sheets and competency reports to assess practical, hands-on student work and completion of specific skills. They can be supplemented with written tests to test knowledge of content.

Software or Materials Used PhotoShop to create digital posters & images; Microsoft Word for reports; Microsoft Excel for charts and graphs; Hyperstudio or PowerPoint for digital slide shows/presentations; Netscape for Internet research; Scanners and digital cameras for photos and art. Other materials include Cultural Uses of Plants a Guide toLearning about Ethnobotany 2001 The New York Botanical Garden Press by Gabriell DeBear Paye; field guides, metal plant identification tags, colored pencils for map coloring, soda bottles, scissors, electrical tape, wire, pots, grass seed, labels, potting soil, and other generic science supplies.

Web Sites For a web site about Gabriell's book, student work samples along with pictures and information about plants go to Teacher Resources from Center for Biological Informatics of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Keywords Service Learning, Environmental Science, Career Education, School to Career, Natural Resource Management, Biology, Botany, Landfills, Park Management, Taxonomy, Biodiversity, Ecological Restoration

Final Words The most satisfying part of this project is watching students present their work at Service Learning Festivals, Earth Day celebrations, elder centers, and especially Science Fairs! The pride on their faces and the light in their eyes prove that teaching remains a worthwhile pursuit.

Teacher Tip Give students choices so that their projects capitalize on strengths and interests. Some students enjoy making digital posters on the computer; some like outdoor work of tagging trees; some prefer constructing bird feeders; some excel at scientific investigations; while others really delight in presenting to youngsters, elders, or peers.

E-mail contact Gabriell DeBear Paye gdebearpaye@boston.k12.ma.us

Teacher Bio Gabriell DeBear Paye (now at English High) was Lead Teacher at West Roxbury High, a School to Career School, teaches Biology, Horticulture, and Environmental Science in the Perkins funded vocational program. She has won numerous awards for her curriculum materials including Peace Corp Global Teachnet, Access Excellence, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Presenter for Service Learning grants, MetroLINC, the Global Lab Project, and EnviroNet, she loves helping students design successful science projects. 2000 was a productive year for Gabriell. Some of her environmental labs were included in the Holt 2000 Environmental Science textbook series, and her first book Cultural Uses of Plants: A Guide to Learning About Ethnobotany was published.

Subject Areas Biology, Environmental Science, Horticulture

Grade Levels 9 - 12

Students All

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