Each school year, the Metroparks Interpretive Department works to provide quality educational experiences to southeast Michigan students. Programs are designed to meet curriculum standards and inspire students through hands on applied learning in a way that can’t be done in the classroom. Although the end of this school year changed drastically, our goal did not.
The Metroparks were fortunate to have received multiple grants for the 2019-2020 school year that allowed us to reach even more students. These funds supplemented our budget and allowed classrooms the opportunity to attend Metroparks field trips or in-school programs for free. The impact and reach that our interpretive educators have had on students was expanded thanks to the generous funds of these grantors.
Hanover Insurance Group Foundation provided funding to allow Hudson Mills Metropark to work with 75 third grade students on a year long project exploring the scientific method through hands on data collection and data analysis. Students worked with a set of decomposing logs, using scientific measuring tools, and recording their observations through multiple visits to the logs during different stages of decomposition.
Indian Springs Metropark was awarded funding through 3M TENS program to work with 88 students on an immersive scientific investigation in the Huron River headwaters. Through the use of technology and tools, students and interpreters work in the classroom and in the Metropark to enhance science, research and math skills over multiple visits. The goal of this program is to improve historically low science proficiency scores in the participating schools.
The Four County Community Foundation generously funded field trips for classes at both Wolcott Mill Metropark and Stony Creek Metropark. 756 Students were given the opportunity to learn about agriculture, nature and history using their senses, allowing for enhanced classroom learning.
Through the PNC Growing Up Great Program, Our Outreach Educators visited preschool classrooms and engaged 393 students throughout the school year. Programs were age-appropriate and geared toward the developmental level of early learners and included stories, puppets, songs and unique activities. Children are encouraged to use their senses during the up-close investigation of furs, feathers, skulls and other animal artifacts. To be eligible, schools had to have at least 50% participation in the Federal Reduced Lunch Program.
As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded and it became clear students would not be making spring field trips to the Metroparks, our Interpreters got creative. Interpreters reached out to teachers asking how they could help students stay engaged and learning during a time when learning was happening primarily at home. Staff stepped up to the challenge and created a variety of videos, worksheets, experiments and more that families and students could do at home and made them available for free on the website at metroparks.com/virtual. For those classrooms who were participating in multi-visit field trips, such as the log exploration at Hudson Mills or the Headwaters exploration at Indian Springs, Interpreters filmed videos of the explorations so that students were able to finish projects, continue to learn and fulfill a gap in field trip education. Teachers shared these videos with students as a way to keep them engaged and prepared for the next school year.
The Metroparks are proud to finish out the school year continuing to deliver diverse, quality educational experiences for our schools, classes and students and we’re making plans for what will be another unprecedented school year in 2020-2021. If you are a teacher and want to provide input on how we can best serve you, please click here to take our survey.
A special thank you once again to our grantors for providing funds and making it possible to provide these opportunities to our community.