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Field Days provide hands-on learning for 4th-graders and teachers

By Lauren Petty

LOGAN – Utah State University’s Water Quality Extension (WQE) will host its Natural Resource Field Days beginning Sept. 9, marking its 30th year of providing quality scientific education for Cache Valley fourth-grade students and teachers.

Field days participants will engage in a series of hands-on learning activities at four stations focused on a variety of natural resource concepts including water, plants, wildlife and soil. Tiffany Kinder, education program coordinator for WQE, said the activities help students to better retain educational information.

“We found a significant increase in knowledge eight months following the field days,” said Kinder, who premised her thesis on the field days in 2010. “Our research showed us that the students weren’t only learning, they were actually retaining the information.”

Kinder said these tactile interactions directly involve students in the process of scientific discovery, enabling them to form their own inferences of the world around them.

“We also found evidence that the students were gaining environmental awareness,” she said. “So we’re not only influencing their knowledge, but their attitudes toward the environment.”

Brian Greene, a program coordinator for Utah Water Watch, said the field days also provide benefits for participating teachers.  “The field days provide valuable information for teachers that they will use throughout the school year,” Greene said. “Fourth-graders in Cache Valley will get to spend a day in Logan Canyon and experience environmental concepts in real life which they will later learn about in the classroom.”

The natural resource concepts demonstrated in the field days are among numerous subject areas that have been integrated through outdoor learning activities, providing students with the ability to acquire research, math and analytical skills as they explore scientific procedures.

Field days will be held Sept. 9-20 from 9 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. in Logan Canyon. Those interested in volunteer opportunities can visit the WQE website.

NW