12:00am

Mon April 16, 2012
Environmental Watchdog

Wetlands in Outdoor Classroom in Richmond

A large sunken area behind Madison County’s Glen Marshall Elementary school is  undergoing a conversion.   It allows school children to explore their own wetlands area. The soft soil in the deep pit like area behind the school is becoming a home for new plants and hopefully crawling animals.  Stephen Richter is a biological science professor at Eastern Kentucky University.  Richter says studies show being outside helps kids learn.

“And wetlands can be used in many ways to teach everything from math, to chemistry, to biology obviously…even some sociology…in use of how historically wetlands have been viewed by the public and the government and stream quality as well,” said Richter.

Richter says the wetlands is being developed with a new approach in mind.

“We’re trying a new technique out here for the first time where putting a liner in the center and tapering it out past the liner.. hoping that beyond the liner won’t hold water..but will still be wetland soils and have some plants in there that wouldn’t grow in drier conditions,” added Richter.

Fourth grade science teacher Christy Johnson plans to have her students actively studying wetlands.  Johnson says to experience the biodiversity outside will accelerate learning in the classroom.

“They’re gonna be able to come out, not just with the water quality, the stream testing that our fourth grade is doing..but also be able to test water quality and how the wetlands is affecting the stream below…you know monitor populations of animals,” said Johnson.

Johnson hopes the wetlands will attract amphibians and reptiles.    In addition to the wetlands, the outdoor classroom will also feature a teaching pavilion.    Federal money from the Bluegrass Pride environmental organization will fund the project.