I’m looking at the orange linoleum in the Acorn Room. Mud pieces are everywhere. Science is supposed to be like that- messy. So I try to get used to it, but there is always a part of me that cringes a little before I take a big deep breath and remember that its better this way. Because it means we are getting out there and getting our hands in it, getting messy like Ms. Frizzle says to do in her Magic School Bus. The mud is a sign of our journey down the nature path to Trinity Creek where Grade 5 tested for pH, Nitrate, Dissolved Oxygen, and Biochemical Oxygen Demand.
The journey began with a quick study of watersheds (we all live downstream, remember?) and a survey of the Trinity Watershed with drains and hills and parking lots that all feed into the bottom portion of the nature path, dubbed Trinity Creek. Grade 5 was divided into four teams to test the water of Trinity Creek to determine if our watershed is healthy for the animals that make this campus their home (we are a Certified Wildlife Habitat, after all).
Students learned their particular test and practiced once at Sharon Pond so they would know what to do when the rain finally arrived. And we were in luck. It rained just in time for Garden today. We jumped at our chance. Students knew what to do, they divided up the jobs to get done, and they recorded their results and conclusions. The pieces are coming together.
The funny part about all this are the pieces I see. As the teacher, I have experienced the tricky part of timing the testing so all the parts can lead up to this grand finale, while staying patient about rain and getting the testing done when the rain is coming down. In the first few years it was a fairly easy task to accomplish. The rain was happening while we learned and my main concern was not to jump on the testing too late. However, last year and this year I am noticing a slight change. Last year we did the same activities at the same time of year and hoped and wondered if rain would come. We worried about it just a little bit. What if a drought were on its way? And then it rained. And rained and rained and rained. The idea of a drought was far from our minds in May when it was still raining. And this year? We have wondered the same things. Are we going to have rain this winter? Are we heading toward a drought? With this rain and it’s perfect timing I have to wonder if this year will bring spring rains like the last? Makes me wish I had some better data to share- but perhaps this water testing project is the barometer we need. I know one thing for sure: The garden loves rain, and that makes a garden teacher happy.