Saturday, October 5, 2013
Sullivan’s Island Elementary School students definitely woke up on the right side of the bed, that is the oyster bed, this year. Each grade cluster has been learning about the dynamic local coastal habitats by literally getting their feet wet. The kindergarten and first grade classes experienced dragging a seine net with Jim Koenig of Kingfish Environmental pulling in quite a variety of plant and animal life which lies just offshore. Students compared and contrasted animal adaptations as well as learned about a variety of niches occupied by these organisms.
The second and third grades experienced the multitude of life forms existing inshore in splendid marshes led by Barrier Island EcoTours naturalists; everything from the innumerable planktonic species in estuarine waters, to the blue and stone crabs pulled up in the very same pots fisherman have used for over a century, to bottlenose dolphin breaching before their very eyes. The concept of an ecosystem was introduced and reinforced and students were shown how they can impact the entire system in very positive ways.
The fourth and fifth grade cluster ventured into the interior of a pristine barrier island habitat with the naturalists from Coastal Expeditions, investigating further connections between the concepts that were learned by the kindergarten through third grade clusters. While doing so, they experienced the very specific, dynamic zones which comprise a barrier island and learned more about what it takes to survive in this beautiful, yet volatile, environment.
Bull Island, part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is a perfect example of an almost completely unaltered barrier island with extremely visible evidence of the natural processes these islands face seasonally, annually and even throughout decades and centuries. Students were able to begin to piece together the “life” of a barrier island and its inhabitants which allowed them to realize the importance of these ecosystems within our larger system.
SIES students are taught to think critically, logically and to make connections daily, while in the classroom. The experiences that teachers provide outside of the walls of the school help students to understand that there is relevance to what they are learning. Without students being able to connect themselves to a bigger picture and to realize their impact and influence on our natural world, with each decision they make, the school would not be doing its job to create fully-informed young people who will work to protect, sustain and enhance the parts of our world that we all feel the most connected to.