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RJB Students Engage In Interactive Learning With Greenburgh Nature Center Staff

RJB Students Engage In Interactive Learning With Greenburgh Nature Center Staff

Pressing down with all her might, a sixth-grader enthusiastically pushes a soil testing probe into the school grounds at Richard J. Bailey Elementary School. With a little more effort, she pulls the tool out from the earth as the rest of the class surrounds her and her findings, analyzing the different layers of soil with intense wonder. At the same time, classmates occupying another corner of the school's grounds are making the acquaintance of a 25-year-old box turtle as they learned about how the environment needs to be maintained for such animals to survive. These are among the many student activities from the Environmental and Sustainability Education Programs offered by the Greenburgh Nature Center.

In recent weeks, each RJB student went on an ‘in-school field trip’ arranged by the informative Greenburgh Nature Center staff. On their scheduled day, students replaced their normal class periods with mini educational programs, each presenting a broad range of physical science, earth science, and sustainability topics, along with reminders of the importance of finding ways to be in balance with nature.

In some sessions, students were introduced to birds of prey, which helped jump-start discussions about the importance of understanding species indigenous to our area. Later that day, students learned the concept of a carbon footprint and how their actions can influence the environment, realizing that they have the power to make thoughtful choices or trade-offs in order to help the environment.

“Thoughtful, hands-on educational opportunities like these are much more than a way to engage kids in the moment,” expressed Principal Racci. “These programs do an amazing job at exposing students to new concepts in ways that they understand and experience, and then carry on in practical ways to their own lives.”

While the Greenburgh Nature Center, supported by the RJB team, does a great job of making these programs memorable and fun, they also provide students with the opportunity to engage in a unique experiential learning environment where they are challenged to use critical thinking skills. For example, in one session, Forces and Movement, students were challenged with an egg drop contest. Students had to work together to figure out how best to encapsulate their eggs in a protective container, choosing only two of the many materials offered.

“I liked that we got to work with our team to figure out how to protect the egg! Seeing how our decisions turned out was very exciting,” described 6th-grader Darapaige.

Darapaige elaborated on how the Forces and Movement section of the Greenburgh Nature Center was her favorite part of the visit and was equally excited to share that, after careful thinking and planning, her team’s egg survived the drop from the top of the playground. Here at RJB, we continually strive for moments like these, where students’ educational experiences foster a profound level of interactivity, collaboration, and life-long curiosity.

“It’s really great to witness how the kids open up in meaningful ways and start thinking outside the box,” concluded Principal Racci. “I can’t overstate how valuable it is for students to connect with the community and be exposed to diverse learning experiences like these.”

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