Undoubtedly, the highlights of the Summer Academy include the high level of engagement, academic gains, and improved attendance, which are attributed to the addition of field trips and community visitors. The canoe trip was something that most of our students had never done before. Not only did they learn about the canal they were on and how it connects to the watershed, but also how to row a canoe! We paired two older students with two younger ones and off they went! It was a great day of exploration, teamwork and education.
The trip to the Watershed Institute was a rewarding experience. Students had a day of exploration as the guides went seining in the lakes and engaged the students in learning about what was found. This trip proved to be an authentic assessment, one where students applied what they had learned at GBCS and in watersheds by asking thoughtful and relevant academic questions, holding educated conversations, and sharing their knowledge with the guides and peers.
Finally, the trip to Sandy Hook gave our students exposure to more new things as well as information about the watershed. They collected shells at the beach, learned what affect Hurricane Sandy had on the area's waterways and put on rubber boots and went seining, collecting plant and animal life from the bay. It was a great experience for everyone involved!
In addition to the trips, our guest teachers brought a lot of experience and information to us. The naturalist gave lessons on waterlife and had a great "fish painting" project for students to create. The doctoral student from Rutgers is in the Graduate School of Ecology and Evolution shared information with our older students about marine and tidal marsh ecology. Gardeners gave great lessons and interactive experiences with our rain garden, highlighting how it connects to the watershed. In addition, students had guided visits to our stream, Mile Run, to do water testing and observe wildlife.
Finally, one of our greatest highlights is that we had almost 90% of our students in attendance every day. That's a huge improvement from the 64% in the previous year. We can credit the parent orientation meeting, the teachers creative and interesting lessons, the field trips, the addition of 4 days (making it a 5 day a week program) and the students who were more enthusiastic to be in the program due to all of the above.