Studying ecosystems is a major component of elementary science. Ecosystem education is recommended for nearly every primary grade in both the Science Literacy New Hampshire Curriculum Frameworks and the Next Generation Science Standards. Learning about ecosystems is not only a high interest topic of life sciences among young students – it also provides them with a stimulating and illuminating opportunity to learn science by doing science depending on where they live. For a vast majority of New Hampshire students, the rocky shore ecosystem is an accessible learning laboratory.
This week I had a chance to shadow one of the Seacoast Science Center’s naturalists while she facilitated a classroom visit to the rocky shore. It was a gorgeous Thursday morning with sunny skies, warm waters and plenty of space to explore the ecosystem’s diverse organisms and environmental elements. To my excited surprise, the time slot I chose to observe belonged to Sutton Central Elementary School – one of the four elementary schools in my own district!
The Seacoast Science Center’s naturalist that allowed me to pester her with questions and tag alongside her all morning was Kelly Tivnan. Ms. Tivnan is a soft-spoken yet spirited individual who decided to work for the SSC because of her love of the seacoast, joy in teaching, and dedication to education and the conservation of our state’s rocky shore. You can tell she adores children and highly values the responsibility of providing valuable learning experiences for visiting schools. This is reflected not only in her work but also in her life as a proud mother of four and a new member of the Middleton, NH school board.
Ms. Tivnan’s responsibilities can be divided into three major categories: 1) educate students about the rocky shore’s dynamic community, 2) facilitate on-site student investigations of the rocky shore and 3) field and answer questions from students. I am thankful for her hard-working efforts in her local community and at the SSC, and am grateful that I had the chance to shadow her morning session with Sutton Central.
Science class at the rocky shore is an experience that is not only memorable, but as I have mentioned before in my blog, an educational paradise. The ability to be involved with inquiry-based learning at one of the world’s most interesting and diverse ecosystems – one that is quite perilous for its inhabitants and constantly changing – is an extremely valuable endeavor. I was very appreciative once more of my time at the rocky shore and being able to spend it with Ms. Smith’s fantastic third grade class! It was wonderful to be able to watch her students take their content knowledge from the classroom and apply and refine their science inquiry skills at the rocky shore…it was learning science by doing science at its best.