Ancient squid and starfish fossils. Roots of a 1.8 billion year-old, compressed Minnesota mountain. Rocks from France, Germany, India, Italy, California, and Indiana. The same marble that Michelangelo used to carve David. Where can you find all of these geologic treasures? As our 4th and 5th graders are finding, in the walls and floors of downtown Portland! The city is alive with many examples of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock. This fall, students have visited numerous locations downtown as part of their trimester-long unit in geology. The 4th and 5th graders are currently working in small groups to research and write about specific buildings or other locations (like the flooring around the fountain in Pioneer Place mall). Earlier this fall, the students learned about geology from Portland Parks and Rec staff at Mt. Tabor, from OMSI staff who visited our school, and from their knowledgeable classroom teachers. The students will be using all of this learning to create a fun, educational scavenger hunt, called a ¨quest,¨ which will then be distributed to other teachers and families who want to learn about geology in Portland. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Geological Society of the Oregon Country, who are super excited to gain learning materials geared towards young people. We’re looking forward to seeing the final quests later in December- which we will also share with the SWCS community. Family field trip!
Our 1st and 2nd graders are also using the city as their learning laboratory, by looking a little closer at what makes a neighborhood. In class, students made 3-D maps of a neighborhood to gain experience with essential elements. In the field, students have explored the South Waterfront, visited Umpqua Bank, journeyed to OHSU on the aerial tram, traveled to the Belmont Historic Fire House and interviewed Dennis Allen from Zidell about the future of South Waterfront development. The classes are also anticipating a visit from a Portland Police officer. As a culminating project to this unit, students will create a welcome guide to the South Waterfront neighborhood with help from Ronnie Rudolph, a volunteer production editor from Mirabella, and 8th grade intern, Vlad Cartwright. Graciously, South Waterfront Community Relations has offered to distribute the guides to neighborhood apartment buildings to give out to new residents.
Both of these projects are excellent examples of place-based learning! It´s so great to see students out in the community making authentic connections and doing real work. Way to go!