Elementary students across Bloomfield Hills Schools have resumed field trips that help make real-world connections to learning. Both Bowers School Farm and the E. L. Johnson Nature Center, part of Bloomfield Hills Schools, have been busy hosting busloads of students who spend the morning or afternoon gathering information that extends the classroom experience.
Way Elementary second graders were especially excited to be back at Bowers Farm. They visited various areas of the farm and learned about the animals, food production, and some of the farm buildings.
Dr. Les Sharon, Way Elementary Principal, explained, “Students learned about life on the farm one hundred years ago. This included hearing about the indigenous people who lived in the area long ago, assessing the age of trees, and understanding the symbiotic relationship between honeybees and the pumpkin patch.’”
After the event, students completed a Connect, Extend, Challenge (CEC) writing assignment. The CEC activity is a Visible Thinking routine that helps students make connections between prior knowledge (I already knew that…) and new ideas (I learned that…). It also encourages them to take stock of ongoing questions, puzzles, and difficulties as they reflect on what they are learning (I want to know…).The students draw photos to go with each of their written statements.
One student, Tookhor Kadry, said they already knew that “When honeybees sting, they die,” but also learned that “bees work with farmers.” Tookhor now wants to know, “How do chickens lay eggs?”
Jeremiah Vincent previously had learned that “pumpkins grow from a flower,” but now also knows that “chickens can bite.” Jeremiah is curious to learn more about “why chickens can bite you.”
And Elin Booth originally said, “I was scared of the chickens,” but as part of the field trip learned that “the chickens love me!!!” Elin’s new challenge is to find out “how the log house got brought to Bowers Farm.”
Other students documented their thoughts about the pond, cows, peacocks, and horses they observed as part of the field trip. “It was another welcome dose of ordinary school life,” said Dr. Sharon, “the sight of second-graders boarding a bus for a field trip to Bower's Farm! I am so grateful for these little reminders that we are moving back to normal, together.”
The Farm and Nature Center both have diverse habitats supporting a variety of native plants and wildlife, livestock, and crops. From stepping into the historical buildings and back in time, to digging deep into the soil and imagining a more sustainable future, these unique sites offer dynamic educational experiences to serve the needs of today’s students.