Farrington Explore Club with Lincoln METCO
Last spring, Farrington Nature Linc worked with the Lincoln METCO program to provide three after school field trips for 10 Boston youth in grades 4 and 5 that attend the Brooks School. This year, we are running our first full semester of the Farrington Explore Club, running Tuesday afternoons from mid-October to late November. This semester, 4 of the 6 weeks will take place at the Brooks School in Lincoln, with two field trips to Farrington. Our theme for the semester has been simple machines and engineering in nature. Each week, we spend some time inside, brainstorming different simple machines and if and how those simple machines may exist in the natural world. We explored how inclined planes help make doing work (in this case, moving books) easier. We used screws to make our own nature name tags and make apple sauce.
As we move into mid-November, Massachusetts is in the midst of Stick Season (marking the time of year when the leaves have mostly fallen, but snow has not come yet), we are now in the midst of exploring levers and making our own catapults out of sticks. Then, we will move on to our culminating design challenge to build a structure in the woods with sticks. (Look for pictures of these in our next Farrington Explore Club blog post!)
In addition to the work we do in the classroom, each week we spend at least a portion of our time outside. This time outside is often used to supplement and support our learning about simple machines. It is also used for group activities that focus on play, team building, and supporting the student’s comfort in the natural world.
November 10th marked the first field trip to Farrington for the semester. Throughout the semester, the students expressed interest in spending more time in the woods than they necessarily can at the Brooks school, so we took advantage of the visit to Farrington to spend the whole day outside. We hiked through the woods, and practiced our deer ears while listening to the crows and woodpeckers around in the diminishing afternoon light. We played on the monkey bars and tested our courage climbing the wooden ladder. After they’d had their fill in the playground in the woods, we moved on to the Spruce Forest.
In the open spruce woods, we played several rounds of Hawkeye, with 4th and 5th graders running and hiding in the woods while one student, the Hawk, seeks them out. As our time quickly ran out and we rounded everyone up to head out of the woods, many students (including several who started the day not wanting to go into the woods) were extremely reluctant to leave, asking if we would be able to play more next week. Luckily, we have a couple more weeks of Explore Club, and one more visit to get the kids outside to fill that desire.