Since Fall 2014, Mountain SOL has been providing weekly, inschool programs at the Morgantown Learning Academy (MLA). Every Thursday, Mountain SOL takes every MLA class (PreK3 – 8th grade) outside for lessons, applying environmental education principles to standards that normally are taught in the classroom.
We cycle through a 3-Year cycle with our lessons:
Year 1 – Biodiversity Advocates for the Mountains (BAM) – 2014/2015, 2017/2018
This year is focused on learning about the animals of Appalachia. Lessons range from tracking to owl pellet dissection. Within this year, we also have a detailed unit about monarch butterflies. As part of the Monarch Sister Schools Program, our students are able to video chat with students in Mexico, the winter habitat of these butterflies. We talk about the monarch life cycle and migration. During this unit we use our certified WV Wild Yard and Monarch Waystation to provide hands-on learning opportunities to learn why monarch butterflies rely heavily on milkweed. It’s so much fun to spot a chrysalis. It’s even more fun to watch the butterfly emerge!
Year 2 – The Seasonal Wheel – 2015/2016, 2018/2019
This year-long project is the development of the West Virginia Seasonal Wheel. Seasonal wheels are visual diagrams that incorporate concepts of phenology – the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. The quarters of the wheel represent each season and within each season is information on what is happening with WV native plants and animals and local climate.
We’re also adding an element that is unique among seasonal wheels – what are traditional Appalachian cultures doing during the seasons? This reinforces understanding of how plants, animals and climate affect human communities and vice-versa. For the 2018/2019 school year, each student planted a tulip in the fall. Throughout early spring we will record emergence and blooming of the tulips as part of our phenology unit. These lessons correspond with Journey North‘s curriculum.
Year 3 – Science & Stewardship – 2016/2017, 2019/2020
During the first year of this topic, we participated in the Trout in the Classroom program through Trout Unlimited. The students were able to watch the brook trout grow from eggs to fingerlings. Once the fish became fingerlings, they were released in Deckers Creek. During this unit, students learn about aquatic ecology and water quality. They participate in water sampling to determine pH, conductivity, salinity, and turbidity. Students also learn about bio-indicators – the animals that help us determine the quality of a stream. They learn how to sample and identify benthic macroinvertebrates.
Check out pictures from our in-school activities!