Northpoint Elementary students are getting outside and learning about nature this school year by taking multiple field trips to Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes.
Kevin Koch, a teacher and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) integration specialist, said the Blaine school was looking for more educational experiences that would get the kids outdoors.
“We were looking at enrichment opportunities that would be beneficial to all students, and that’s where we looked at Wargo Nature Center,” Koch said. “Thinking about how much time the kids spend indoors we really want to get kids curious about nature and the world around them.”
This school year, each grade is taking three field trips to Wargo Nature Center in the fall, winter and spring. Each class is assigned an overall theme for the year, so each field trip the students learn a new topic that relates to the overall theme, Koch said.
Field trip topics include Native American history (second grade), tracking (third grade) and nature survival (fourth grade). Prior to the field trip, each grade has to read and do research on the topic and make projects.
On Jan. 9 first-graders went to Wargo Nature Center to learn about birds.
They learned about nests, what birds eat, where they live, and bird physiology. They took a nature hike, listened to bird noises and played a game called jays and juncos.
“This is such a hands-on learning experience,” said first-grade teacher Darcy Brodt. “We try to incorporate hands-on learning experiences as much as possible in school, but this is so much more, and we’re taking it to the next level. It’s so engaging for the kids. They love reading books about animals, and here they get to see it for themselves in nature.”
First-graders Ivy Perkins and Kai Enright said they enjoyed trip.
“I liked seeing the birds,” Perkins said. “I learn more by seeing it.”
“I loved seeing the bird’s nest on the nature walk,” added Enright. “It makes it more special seeing it up close.”
Koch said the field trips to Wargo Nature Center were specially developed to provide more opportunities for the Northpoint Elementary kinesthetic learners who were struggling at reading.
“Our struggling readers really became engaged by us developing an inquiry question and then they started reading for a specific purpose, and then they developed models on the topic,” Koch said. “This significantly has improved our students’ reading comprehension and has gotten kids interested in reading.”