Walking down the halls of Groveland Elementary School, it is not uncommon to see different areas of the school converted into temporary laboratories full of young scientists―from animal track identification, to miniature biome creation, to squid dissection, it seems these students are ready to tackle any experiment thrown their way.
Groveland has been fortunate enough to work with local naturalist Larry Wade, a retired teacher from Hopkins school district who now runs blogs called the "Old Naturalist." He and the staff at Groveland work together to design various nature-related activities for students of all grade levels to participate in.
"It started off as a project between just second grade and Mr. Wade," explains Andrew Gilbertson, principal of Groveland Elementary. "As the years go on, more grades got excited about it. He's like a field trip."
Now, Mr. Wade comes to Groveland several times a year to work with students. Just last week, students participated in an experiment studying bees, and a few weeks before, in a rock classification activity. Mr. Wade, who follows an "intensively hands-on" approach, likes to focus especially on elements of nature that are present on a local level. Through these experiments, students learn about the importance of appreciating and protecting the natural world, including stuff in their own backyards.
"When kids go outside, this stuff is immediately applicable. They're going go outside this summer and see a grasshopper and immediately make that connection," concludes Principle Gilbertson. "I think that in any field, especially science, it's about engaging kids. That's a really powerful way to learn."