In one game, students get to be flying squirrels, predators, and trees. While at first glance the game may appear to be a simple variation of tag, it actually teaches relatively advanced concepts, such as predator-prey relationships, fragmentation, and landscape connectivity. Other activities focus on habitat degradation, generalists vs. specialists, carrying capacity, dendrochronology, and riparian buffers. The crafts encourage students to draw native animals into a spruce forest, chart their lives in tree rings, and make their own spruce tree (complete with spruce oil for a realistic scent).
With the help of fellow AmeriCorps (Ashley Akers, Rachel Fedders, Katie Stoltzfus, and Victoria Woltz) the trunk recently made its debut at Petersburg Elementary School, where it was well-received by approximately 200 third and fifth graders. It was a lot of fun working with the students and watching them get excited about red spruce forests. Some of the students came back to the classroom during lunch and turned the lights off, so they could ‘eat lunch in the spruce forest’ with the scent and animal replicas all around them, and everyone wanted to wear the flying squirrel costumes. In the future, I would like to take students out to the red spruce forest so that they can see the ecosystem about which they have learned.
The red spruce ecosystem trunk will continue to make appearances at schools throughout the area and will be present at various upcoming events. To schedule the trunk or request a lesson please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-636-1800 x224