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