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grades 6-8

All Day Hike| All Seasons

The Marshall Pond and Eco Ag Center education sites are connected via the 4-mile Unity Mountain Trail. The trail passes through forest and fields that were once farmland, allows access to 2 ponds, an overlook, and nearby beaver lodge and dam. Natural & cultural history can be taught along the trail and teachable moments abound. 

   Special note: Students will need to bring water and lunch and wear closed toed shoes.  This is not a loop trail. Drop-off and pick-up are at 2 different locations. Snowshoes are required for winter hikes.

Be a Scientist | All Seasons

Students will collect data for any number of seasonal citizen science projects.  The data will be used by professional scientists around the world.  Mission Monarch, Project Budburst, Lichen Monitoring, Water Quality Testing, Pollinator Garden Phenology, and iNaturalist are some of the projects available.

   Special note: iNaturalist requires a free app to be downloaded.

Journaling Skills| Fall, Spring

Students will learn how to use a journal to record information during nature study.  This includes drawing and writing and focuses on details instead of artistic ability. Activities will be chosen based on the time of year, study location, and grade level.

   Special Notes: Schools will need to provide journals for students. Pair with Observation Skills.

Life in the Forest| Fall, Spring

Who lives in the forest and how do they interact with one another? Discover the answers to these questions and more through focused observations, role-playing games, activities and discussion. Topics may include energy flow, matter cycling, interdependence, and predator/prey relationships.

Mammal Tracks & Signs| Winter

Explore how wildlife moves through the winter landscape.  Be a detective and use clues such as tracks and signs to uncover the story of the animals that are active this time of year in the forest and field. 

   Special Note: Up-close examination of skins and skulls may be included when available.

Mission Monarch | Summer, early Fall

Learn about the life cycle of an insect as you search for monarch butterfly eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides among the milkweeds. Count how many of each life stage you find.  This number will be recorded and reported to an International citizen science project. Information about the monarch breeding population helps organizations to make decisions that help to protect monarch habitat and their amazing migration.

   Special Note: Only available late July, August, and early September.

Monarch Tagging | Fall

Learn about the life cycle of an insect and migration as you search for and attempt to catch adult monarch butterflies. Adults that are caught will be tagged with a small sticker on their outer wing in an effort to monitor the migratory population. The data will be reported to an International citizen science project called Monarch Watch and used to help make decisions about monarch conservation. 

   Special Note: Only available September and sometimes early October.

Nature Art| All Seasons

Inspired by the artistry of Andy Goldsworthy, students will use natural materials to express themselves in art. This can be individual or group work. Students tour the Nature Art or NART gallery and practice giving positive feedback to others. 

Observation Skills | All Seasons

Create and practice routines and skills for learning in the outdoor classroom.  Students will learn how to observe the world around them with all their senses, practice using a magnifying lens to see from another perspective, and practice a common language for nature observation.   

   Special Note: This is a great precursor to any other lesson.​

Snow Science | Winter

Winter is a great time to get outside and explore, especially after a good snowfall. Students will dig a snow pit, measure depth and temperatures, and consider the impact of thermodynamics on wildlife movement.  Snowflake size and structure may also be a focus if conditions are right. 

     Special Note: There needs to be snow for this class. 

Soil Science | Fall, Spring

What is soil and why is it important? Use your senses and some tools to study the soil like a scientist. Tests include color, texture, composition, and water retention. The Soil Tunnel is a great addition to this program.

     Special Note: It is best if we can dig in the soil, but soil can be brought in if need be.

Stories in the Stars | All Seasons

Study the stars, the moon, planets, and the Milky Way Galaxy as you connect to cultures around the globe and across history.  Learn how to find the most obvious constellation in the sky at the time while learning science and cultural stories connected to it. 

     Special Note: This is an indoor program during the school day, but can be outdoors as a special             program at your school.  This could even be part of a Star Party in collaboration with the NH               Astronomical Society. 

Stream/Pond Studies | Fall, Spring

Discover life in an aquatic habitat by collecting and observing organisms that live on the bottoms and sides of the pond or stream. Learn how some of these special creatures act as biotic indicators, giving us information about the health of their habitat. Topics may include life cycles, food webs, adaptations, or water quality. 

     Special Note: Water quality test kits can be included upon request. 

Surviving Winter | Winter

Discover how plants and animals survive long, cold, dark New England winters.  Topics may include migration, hibernation, food cacheing, tracking, and tree characteristics.

     Special Notes: Some activities require snow.​

Valley Quest | Any Season

Tell the story of a special place by creating a Valley Quest on public lands. Vital Communities hosts this program and SCCD works with their educators to help students gain a sense of place through various activities. Students can focus on natural and/or cultural history.  They will create a map, design and carve an ink stamp, and create clues that are usually written in verse. 

   Special Notes: It takes many weeks to create a valley quest, so this is best as a series of lessons, once a week and requires a meeting or phone call with Vital Communities and SCCD to create a schedule and focus area. 

Winter Tree ID | Winter, early Spring

Be a twig detective.  Take a close-up look at twigs and buds.  Learn the lingo for the different structures and use field guides and keys to identify trees using everything but leaves.

Christopher Masure (l), Evan West (c), Ayden Watrous (r)
Students collecting data to create a map of Clay Brook
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