It may be difficult to hold students’ attention as the school year draws to a close, especially if you are asking them to do an in-depth, collaborative social studies project. But that was not a problem for Marlinton Elementary School fourth graders May 18.
The students traveled to the Yew Mountain Center and back in time to imagine what it would have been like to settle the land hundreds of years ago.
“I loved this field trip because it was an adventure,” Noah Nutter said.
“Students were afforded the opportunity to head out into the wild, to connect with nature in a way that the early colonists were forced to do in the late 1600s and early 1700s,” said Brian Smith, their teacher who dreamed up this project.
The students surveyed features at the remote site – old apple trees, scattered cut stones covered in moss, a creek, a pond, a field and lots of forest. They imagined how people might have lived there and designed a village for their settlement. Then they made 3D models of their village showing the contours of the land with layers of cardboard. Leading up to this trip, students had studied maps and topography in the classroom.
But it wasn’t all about the past. Smith incorporated modern technology into the day.
“The students also had the chance to work in collaborative groups to complete a GPS course, allowing us to connect current technology with our studies of early exploration and settlement patterns.”
They zigzagged across old fields and forest using coordinates to find points that Smith had hidden the weekend before.
“Our field trip was fun because we had to find objects and one of my teammates stepped on it,” said fourth grade student Dakota Sheets.
The students also found a ruffed grouse and her babies, a water snake, salamanders, mayfly larvae and crayfish and all had a chance to go canoeing on a large pond.
“I liked canoeing because I was able to touch the water,” student Andrew Small said.
Eden Smith, another student wrote, “Nature is amazing and this trip just helped prove it.”
The field trip was supported by the Snowshoe Foundation, the Greater Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation and the Yew Mountain Center.