Third grade took their first field trip of the year today.
It was the first one any Gordon students have taken this year.
They left on foot.
Second and third grades have been doing a close study of Gordon's pond and stream this year, and learning about the way humans can positively and negatively impact the natural world that surrounds them.
Along the way, they developed a series of proposals for maintaining the pond that the school's Buildings and Grounds committee reviewed this morning.
For today's field trip, third graders followed the travels of the water in Gordon's spring-fed pond, as it moves downhill through a series of natural streams and man-made drains all the way to Narragansett Bay.
Gordon is near some wild wetlands.
Gordon is near some heavily managed wetlands.
Gordon is near many wetlands that are somewhere in between.
Ask a third grader: what is the difference between a pond, a bog, a marsh and a swamp?
During the mile-long walk to the shore, third graders saw them all.
Along the way, they marked the path for classmates who couldn't join them today.
By tracking the changes in vegetation, the students were able to see the ground water transition between the fresh water pond and the brackish bay.
They backed their observations with salinity and pH tests.
What's the reading in the bay?
What's the reading in Gordon's pond?
At the saltiest spot!
What's the salinity when it's too salty for cattails?
And are there cattails in the bay?
Because it is...
So the salt will kill the cattails. But do we want the pond to be that salty?
Because that's too salty for the frogs!
Along the way, they encountered wildlife and signs of the old waterfront railroad.
Could those be the same herons that were living in Gordon's pond?
Could those be the same flowers that grow by the dam?
Could that be the same water that drains from the stream?
Two-and-a-half miles later, they re-emerged onto campus with muddy shoes, sea glass, and a new perspective on Gordon's place in the larger community.
And in their closing conversation, their science teacher repeated the phrase he'd been using all morning, and all through the wetlands study.