Chesterton Tribune



Bailly students get wild about nature; CMS club gets fishy

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Mother Nature took center stage at Mondays Duneland School Board meeting as members heard about the Bailly 3rd grade classes field trip to the Dunes Learning Center and the story behind Chesterton Middle Schools Fish Club.

Third grade teacher Sandy Campbell reported that, just before winter break, the classes traveled to the Dunes Learning Center in the National Lakeshore to learn how animals adapt to colder temperatures. The students got to experience nature firsthand by burrowing in tunnels, hiding from predators, and building a shelter for their made-up indigenous creature they called a grumphet, Campbell said.

As Bailly Principal Kevin Zeck explained, the third grade classes are learning about animal habitats and the native species of Indiana with the art teacher Anne Long and media specialist Michelle Ward.

Long displayed homemade habitats created by the students using a plastic milk jug covered with tissue paper to represent the habitat. Inside they used organic materials like twigs, pine cones, and moss. Students Skylar Peffers and Megan Haggerty helped demonstrate.

Ward said the students all did research on native species with information from Purdue University Extension. They then picked their three favorite facts and wrote them into sentences. Students Emily Pritchett and Carson Wilkinson reported on the southern flying squirrel and the plains pocket gopher, respectively.

Meanwhile, Campbell explained that the students at the Learning Center heard about the importance of composting, reusing and recycling materials to protect environments. They also wrote a letter to their future selves about what they learned which they will read when they return in 4th grade.

I thought the trip was awesome, said 3rd grader Lindsey Sharpe.

Parent Julie Geenan, mother of student Gina Geenan, told of her amazement at seeing the children interacting with nature and having fun doing it. For myself, it was a great discovery as well, she said.

Student Nathaniel Lambert learned about the migratory sandhill cranes who inhabit the Dunes area on their way to Canada or Florida. Its an amazing 1,000 miles, Lambert said.

Zeck said that the field trip is one part of Baillys comprehensive Dunes education program. The 2nd grade classes will visit Chellberg Farm on the maple syrup field trip, while the 4th grade will participate in the Dunes Frog in the Bog overnight educational program.

(The Dunes are) something in our own backyard and I think its great to be able to do this for our students. We took this trip and made it unique to Bailly, Zeck said.

Fish Club

Meanwhile, Member Mike Trout got to experience a little bit of nature himself at the meeting as Chesterton Middle School instructional aide Jim Van Nevel explained the ongoing activities of the CMS Fish Club.

Van Nevel asked Trout whether he would help siphon a 10-gallon fish tank since his surname matches that of a certain freshwater fish.

This is how I used to pump my gas, Trout joked.

Van Nevel explained he got the idea to start a fish club about two years ago when he and science teacher Samantha Joll discovered they shared an interest in small and aquatic animals and had several aquariums.

Van Nevel set up a one 10-gallon aquarium at the school and found other staff and students who wanted to have them in their classrooms and little by little he was able to get more fish tanks with donations.

Ive made so many more relationships with other people in the building with these fish tanks, Van Nevel said.

A tank was placed in the nurses office to calm students who might be feeling sick or nervous and a larger 28-gallon has been set up in the CMS main office.

Having worked in a pet store, Van Nevel said he enjoyed sharing his knowledge of fish species and started the CHS Fish Club.

The club, which meets weekly, learns about the different species of fish and how to properly care for them. Currently the number of club members is about 20, Van Nevel said, with five times as many this year compared to last.

Student members Olivia Smith and Jessica Gerhals showed the board the proper way to siphon a tank and told how the filter in the aquarium works.

Van Nevel said the club members have participated in selling candy bars to raise money to purchase tanks and equipment. He said he also received $3,000 of donated equipment from one of the club members parents.

Van Nevel said he would like to keep fundraising to bring fish tanks to other schools in Duneland.

There is a lot students can learn in a textbook, but they learn a lot more seeing it through their eyes, he said.



Posted 2/5/2014