Lessons on the Environment: Students Study Wind, Metals and Birds


On Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, a group of more than 70 junior and senior students enrolled in DMAE Environmental Science classes traveled to the Meadowlands Environment Center to learn about possible careers in the field of environmental science. Students also learned about renewable sources of energy, such as wind, and studied the ecosystem nearby.

The trip was arranged by science teacher Michelle Escobedo, who wanted students to learn new things outside of the classroom.

“Students were introduced to everyday environmental issues that impact our local areas such as the Meadowlands,” Ms. Escobedo said. “This information could potentially spark interest in careers that deal with these issues,” she explained.

Students took a tour of the Center and participated in one of three activities. The  first was an activity called “Power: Exploring Renewable Energy” in which students studied renewable sources of energy by creating their own wind turbine models and competing to build the best blade. This activity was popular because students enjoyed the contest. However, they also understood the importance of the need for renewable energy.

The trip was very fun for me, and I learned a lot about the environment and how to take care of it.

— Camilo Celedon

DMAE students being lectured on metals

Another activity was “Heavy Metals: Up Berry’s Creek Without a Paddle.” For this, students first listened to a lecture. Next, they completed a lab in which they determined how long it takes for certain metals to affect or kill living things. Last, they went on a scavenger hunt to look for different heavy metals in the Meadowlands surrounding area.

“A high point of the Heavy Metals activity was the scavenger hunt, however, the introduction to the class was too long,” senior Chris Kim noted.

Another student who participated in this activity also felt there was room for improvement.

“I learned about the effects of heavy metals on the environment and I also got to spend quality time in the outdoors while seeking answers to questions about environment,” senior Yuliya Lukava explained. “My only concern was that the activities were not as exciting as I anticipated, so I wish we had more fun,” she added honestly.

The third group activity was “Biodiversity: Birds as Barometers.” During this activity students studied the wetlands’ ecosystem, including food chains, to conduct a biodiversity survey.

Content students and teachers learning about biodiversity

Overall, students liked the new trip, with some claiming that it opened their eyes to how certain parts of the environment that seem harmless can have a lasting effect on the rest of the world. Ms. Escobedo felt the new trip was a success and plans to return next year..

“The feedback was mostly positive about the courses from students and teachers,” Ms. Escobedo said.

Before then, she is hoping to go on another field trip in the spring.

“We are currently looking at Flat Rock Brook Creek or possibly Sandy Hook,” she said.

Funding for the trip came from the Dwight Morrow High School Alumni Educational Alliance in response to a grant Ms. Escobedo applied for and won during the winter of last year.

Whatever learning experiences students had on the trip, the overall impact was worthwhile and led to the same conclusion – the environment is worth safeguarding.