H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society. Students often wrongfully believe that their live does not interact with society as a whole. Though often fully often absorbed in their own lives, they don’t see how their life affects other people and the world around them. While some teachers try to emphasize to students that they are just one of many, an excellent teacher will help students investigate their role in greater society. Before I left my first internship site, the combined 4th grade classes took a field trip to Carkeek Park in order to see salmon at the end of their migration. The key question asked by our guide was “How do we play a part in salmon migration?” Though stumped at first, after a game and some observations (Image 1), they soon realized that they do play a role in the salmon life cycle.
In the game, students ran through an obstacle course pretending to be “salmon” evading the foes and woes of their life cycle. Young fries had to make it through powerful turbines, away from the fisherman’s hook, out of the mouths of orca whales, and safely back to their streams as spawning adults. Adding the “pollution” obstacle made the game even harder, and many “salmon” had difficulty making it through the man-made hydropower turbines. This activity made students more aware of the physical challenges that faced salmon before humans contributed to the mix, allowing them to become aware of the little things they do that affect salmon habitat.
Groups then switched and we went on a scavenger hunt by the stream (Image 2). We saw salmon at the end of their lives, struggling to make it to the spawning grounds, as well as those who had already spawned. Our guide also pointed out to us the drainage pipes that released water from our street drains (Image 3). Having one of those drains just outside the portable classroom, students instantly were able to recognize that what they put down that drain would go directly to an important piece of salmon habitat.
While students had often been told how important it was not to litter, they hadn’t often been told why. This field trip helped them realize their role in society – as a generation that recycles and uses chemicals sparingly knowing the hardships they can cause wildlife. Thanks to this half-day in the field, they now know one more way in which their choices can have an impact on society.