GSB Third Graders Learning Math in the Woods With DRA
It’s a different take on equivalent fractions, numerators, denominators, addition, and division. It combines learning basic math skills with a 45-minute walk in the woods to explore, collect, and observe part of the natural environment. And it’s something Jennifer Gregg’s third graders at Great Salt Bay Community School (GSB) look forward to every week. On most Wednesday mornings throughout the past winter and early spring, DRA Education Director Sarah Gladu has taught math outdoors under the trees behind the school building.
“We’re out there every week the schedule permits, rain or snow or shine,” explained Gregg. “The kids love Sarah. She brings the math they’re learning to life and gives them a way to make math skills a genuinely fun, physically hands-on experience.”
Equipped with clipboards, paper, and pencils, the students in Gladu’s Math in the Woods class are also picking up some basic biology concepts along the way, including sample size, species diversity, and adaptation.
“I think they’re getting a little taste of what field biology is like,” said Gladu. “Besides learning about fractions – for instance, expressing the number of leaves with insect damage in a sample as a fraction – they have a chance to observe the natural world around them. It’s amazing what these kids find out there! Everything from sprouting acorns (which they’ve brought indoors and planted, by the way), to mushrooms growing on dead wood, pine cones protecting seeds, and crocuses just beginning to bloom.”
Math in the Woods is one of many DRA nature education programs underway in the community, offering opportunities for all ages to learn more about stewardship and the environment of the midcoast region. These include preschool, afterschool, and homeschool programs, Midcoast Stewards, Oyster Gardening, Camp Mummichog summer day camp, Archaeology Field School, Wabanaki Living Skills and Culture Program, and workshops and “walks and talks” on many topics.