I am a member of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia and recently went to a day of workshops during The Outdoor Learning Symposium. The workshops I attended were very interesting.
I went to one session that was held by a geologist and a biogeologist and talked about how we can use plants to identify the rocks beneath our feet. Our state is very wooded and covered in plants. Our capital city has the highest density of tree canopy coverage in the nation, so plants are an important intersection with Earth Science teaching in our state. We essentially looked at the most common types of rocks found in our state by geographic region (which is taught in our state in the third grade, in Waldorf Schools we tend to teach this in fourth grade) and then what plants grew there due to the soil conditions. We went through the prehistoric epochs to see WHY we have the types of rocks here that can be found, why our state is low in fossil finds, how Africa merged with North America and essentially took the part of the state that is now Atlanta, which was off the coast of Cape Hatteras and shoved it into where it was today. Some of the rocks we went through included quartz and the plants associated with quartz, granite, amphibilate, and limestone (and why our state only has marble in a certain place). The best resources for this type of work include using indicator plants, using geologic maps, the web soil survey of the USDA. I bought a great geologic game for children. I already had the roadside geology guide for my state, and many other states are available. This is the site for the Georgia book and geologic game that I use. Earth Science Literacy standards were also addressed. We received free pamphletswith the “Big Ideas” of Earth Science literacy. For more information on this, you can see Earth Science Literacy.
I also went to sessions about Project WET and Project Learning Tree. Project WET focuses on action-oriented education that helps children understand the value of water in the world. In that session, we played a variety of games, even including magic tricks, that focused on water. They have a great curriculum that can be obtained by taking a certification course that runs about 10 hours, but there are also a variety of free resources available as well. There are other “sister” organizations in my state that work together, including Project WILD (wildlife focus) and Project Learning Tree (forestry). All of these have separate certifications to be able to use their curriculum, but from what I saw it would be easy to incorporate many of these ideas and concepts into Waldorf Education.
The last session I attended was a Project Learning Tree session where we discussed forestry, the role of trees in our state, and made paper. It was a fun session. For those of you looking for ideas regarding paper making, this book was there and it was fun to look through: 300 Ideas for Papermaking. We had a great time making paper with all kinds of add-ins.
Lots of fun, and looking forward to the Annual Southeastern Environmental Education Conference and Research Symposium next year!