Left: Philip Rhinesmith, District senior environmental scientist, demonstrates animal track plaster casting techniques to a group of students. Center: Students examine and identify macroinvertebrates in a water sample at the water quality station. Right: The soil sampling station was popular among many of the students on the field trip.
Seventh-grade science students from Wildwood Middle High School recently stepped outside the classroom to collect and analyze data during a field trip to the District’s Lake Panasoffkee property.
The students used wireless portable computers, digital cameras, scientific probes and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, which were purchased by the school district after it was awarded a federal “Enhancing Education Through Technology” grant. The focus of the grant is to enhance science teaching and learning through the integration of technology.
“Thanks to our strong partnership with Sumter County School District staff, we were able to help meet the school district’s need for a science-based field trip where students could put their technology tools to work,” said Mary Margaret Hull, District lead Youth Education coordinator. “This opportunity also helped bring a diverse group of students to District lands.”
The field trip combined science content, technology, environmental awareness and hands-on field experiences. There were five learning stations set up throughout the property. More than 85 students were able to choose two of the five activities.
A variety of lessons were offered, including instruction on testing water quality and conducting soil sampling. Students also had the opportunity to track animals by capturing and recording evidence of wildlife on the property. Land Resources staff took some of the groups on trails and instructed students on how to create maps using GPS devices to record waypoints. In addition, one of the newer exercises included having students create property informational signs for visitors.
“The ‘Get Outside!’ field trips are certainly a group effort,” said Carmen Sanders, District senior Land Resources specialist.
Along with Communications and Land Resources staff, other participants included staff from the Brooksville Regulation Department and the Mapping & GIS, Water Quality Monitoring Program and Environmental sections.
“The success of these field trips weighs heavily on the support of our staff, and we’re thankful to everyone for their contributions,” said Sanders.
After the activities were over, the groups came together and presented what they learned at the different stations.
“The students were very creative with their presentations,” said Hull. “One group even wrote and performed a rap song about key topics they learned that day.”
Lake Panasoffkee is one of more than 50 properties owned by the District. The property is open year-round for a variety of outdoor activities. Visit WaterMatters.org/recreation/ for more information about District lands.