The following article was written by Courtney Pfizenmaier, USD 475 STEM Coach.
Environmental Education Enrichment Days, EEE for short, was held April 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18 at Milford Lake. It is an annual collaborative partnership between Geary County Fish and Game, the Milford Nature Center and USD 475 that invites 5th grade students to participate in activities that help them develop their understanding of the animals that are part of the Kansas ecosystem.
The Hatchery station introduced students to the beginning stages of life cycle of game fish that are used to stock Milford Lake and other local lakes. Adding to the fish population increases the health of the lake ecosystem and provides opportunities for recreational fishing.
Wipers, sunfish and snakes, oh my! At the Gathering Pond, the Army Corps of Engineers and Ft. Riley’s Department of Public Works teachers provided more information about different fish species and safe fishing practices. The 5th graders were divided into small groups led by adult volunteers and given time to see what they could catch! A special thank you to our U75 school partner units from Ft. Riley, the Noon Kiwanis, family and community members that volunteered to help our students bait hooks and reel in their fish.
The USD 475 STEM Coach team led the classes through two environmental simulations. The first one, “Oh, Deer!” challenged students to think about how limited resources, injuries and procreation affect the deer population. “Quick Frozen Critters” pits the coyotes against the rabbits in a survival of the fittest game. Rabbits were able to use hiding holes and camouflage to help them get the food they need. Along the way, they had to face the effects of grass fires, pollution, and even motor vehicles! Only the fastest rabbits survived!
Geary County Fish and Game worked in partnership with the Flint Hills Discovery Center to provide information about Kansas birds and their adaptations. The leader for the station showed the students different types of feet and beaks, and asked them to think about what bird those body parts may have belonged to. Students used craft and recycled materials to engineer a new bird species with adaptations specific to their chosen environment.
The learning stations provided through EEE Days, offer the students in our diverse Geary County community, the opportunity to have a set of common experiences that can be used as a foundation to help discuss some of the important science topics specific to 5thgrade.