Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Second Grade Field Trip

This winter we shipped the Methow Valley Elementary second grade class up to the North Cascades Basecamp for a field trip to learn about how animals adapt to winter.  There was a brief introduction in the Ecology Classroom, where Kim introduced myriad different kinds of adaptations, comparing and contrasting them to the methods that humans have developed to cope with the cold.  We all have the same needs to survive, and each creature has its own methods of achieving these basic survival essentials.

She talked about the warm coats humans wear for winter, whereas some animals grow new layers of fur, or hollow fur that traps more heat near the body, and compared our drying, canning, and preserving of foods to the caching that many animals do to keep fed through the sparse, snowy months.

After introducing the kids to the theme of the day, we split up into four groups, which rotated through different stations: The first was in the classroom working on some art projects and word games related to adaptations.  The kids then strapped on snowshoes and got to tromp around the forest surrounding the Basecamp looking for tracks and exploring different animal habitats with Kim and Steve.

Finally they were introduced to the world of subnivean creatures, who burrow under the snow and live in tunnels and dens in the low layer of snow near ground, where the snow provides insulation from the cold winter air and traps the animals' body heat around them.  Burrowing was something the kids could certainly relate to and they grabbed their "claws" (shovels) and got to work excavating the 4-8 foot snow piles around the warming hut with gusto.  We were even able to take some temperature readings in some of the burrows and compare them with the air temperature to see the effects of snow insulation.

Much fun was had by all, and, speaking for myself at least, we learned a lot about how many different ways there are to adapt to the harsh conditions we face.

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