Sixth grade student shares cycles and sapling story

Cycles Theme Leads Charter School Into Forest Help
By Briea Gregory, 6th grade student

Center for Alaska Coastal Studies staff member Patrick Chandler came to Fireweed Academy, a local charter school, to talk about how a forest is a cycle. (The school has quarterly themes, and this quarter’s theme is cycles.) Chandler showed the kids about forest cycles like the way it grows from a stretch of barren ground smoothed by a glacier, how it comes back to life after a forest fire, and other things.

Next, he led them through an activity that had them acting as spruce bark beetles and parts of a tree like the heartwood, xylem, phloem, etc.

Near the end of the lesson, he took students outside to the top of the hill beside the school to core a tree. The device used was not an axe, but a special device that looked like an uppercase T with a hollow inside that, when screwed into a tree, show the rings as a strip of wood with lines demonstrating where the rings were. (If you cored a tree, count the lines to demonstrate where the dark, winter lines are.) One of the kids also discovered a spruce bark beetle gallery (the lines left over in a tree from a spruce bark beetle) in a separate tree.

But that wasn’t all that Fireweed did to help the environment. The head teacher, Kiki Abrahamson, brought in bundles of fifteen spruce tree saplings for students to take home and plant near their own house over Labor Day weekend. Overall, the total of saplings came up to 1890 trees. The trees went to different students with instructions on how to properly plant them. Not all of the students took trees, but the trees ran out quickly anyways because some took multiple bundles of trees. That proves that environmental help can extend to schools.


Note: Schools and students are invited to send their stories and photos for me to share in the Field Notes blog. –Pegge

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