Teachers Take Field Trip As Students

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

September 27, 2005

Educators throughout the Charlottesville-Albemarle region became students for a day to learn how to make life better along the Chesapeake Bay.

Everything we do in our own backyard affects the water in the Chesapeake Bay. Though six states contribute to the bay, located hundreds of miles away, it's still important for us to protect it.

"The kinds of things that we dump down our storm drains affect the Chesapeake Bay which is a couple hundred miles away, but it eventually gets there, and causes damage to the bay," said Chuck Pace, of Albemarle County Public Schools.

However, there are some situations we can't control, so teachers are starting at the bottom to educate children.

"When you get kids out in the real world environment like this, and they can see what some of the potential problems are, later on as adults we're hoping that they will not do those types of things," said Bryan Anderson, a teacher at Sutherland Middle School.

As part of a grant from the Virginia Department of Education, 10 teachers from Albemarle County and Charlottesville, are getting their hands wet, so to speak. The leaders of the classroom, acting as students, are learning how to make science interesting when it comes to talking about preserving the Chesapeake Bay.

"They're the students right now. They're being the guinea pigs. They're finding out what it's like to be a student, and then hopefully they can take over and [teach using the experience] from their student roles from there," said Allan Thomson, of the Virginia Watershed Education Program.

While teachers paddled in their canoes along the Rivanna River, they were able to try their hands at testing water levels to measure its quality. For one middle school teacher, the experience is already giving her ideas, to teach her classroom using streams near her school.

"Working with the DEQ, we've sent in our objectives and strategies for the year, and this is going to be a year-long study for the seventh-graders at Buford," said Brenda Kovarik, a teacher at Buford Middle School.

The grant is only good for this school year, and will be given to different schools next year. Teachers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County hope to take what they learned, and make it into something to use again without the grant.

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