Washington County Sept. 30, 2020

Making coastal connections through nature

The outdoor activities designed with a community partner during year one of the pandemic went so well they are being continued into the next school year.

Through the 2020-2021 school year, a fifth grade class at Rose M. Gaffney Elementary worked with the Downeast Coastal Conservancy to build outdoor activities in support of their science curriculum. This began due to concerns related to masks and social distancing. Each week, students spent one hour outside with their teachers, Caitlyn Roy and Kelly Woodward, along with DCC Outreach Director, Cathy Lookabough. Cathy listened to their curriculum and created activities to align with school standards while encouraging a love of nature in students. Examples of activities included playing a simulation game around deer population, bringing in animal furs, and creating habitat pile-ups. The activities were fun and students always tried to extend the activity time in any way that they could. It’s a program that worked so well, the partnership will continue for the 2021-2022 school year.

There were many times during the year that students helped lead the curriculum, and that was very successful. The group had to change plans due to more cold mornings than expected so they are planning for afternoons in the new year. Teachers saw students' love of the outdoors ignited and strengthened.

This activity exemplified the following Connected Learning Ecosystem attributes:

  • Connecting educators
  • Connecting local to global
  • Supporting rural communities

Submitted by Caitlyn Roy of Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School in Machias, Washington County, Maine.