In the modern classroom we spend so much time these days focusing on testing skills and the FCAT standards. The end result is that a lot of very enriching experiences and activities get shoved to the back of the line ... "Maybe we can do that project, that field trip, etc, after the test in March."
It's frustrating for all involved and sometimes you just have to sneak out for some shock and awe to recharge the "Wow!" factor.
So, last Friday I took each 7th grade science class out into the 40 acre pasture that is behind our school.
Each kid had an insect net thanks to a grant from several years ago. It was quite a sight, which I won't show you in order to protect the privacy of my charges, but I can show you what they caught.
This emerald beauty (not the real name) was the wrong color for a pasture browned by early cold snaps.
There weren't many butterflies out there at this time of year, but when one would pop up, the chase was on ... the boys found this much more exciting than swishing the grass with their nets. This Gulf Frit. stopped in for a visit and then, like everything else, was released.
The highlight of the day (besides the black racer snake) was this pair of walking sticks mating.
You can imagine how fascinating middle schoolers found this event.
Locally, these are "Brown Spitters". Their defense method is to spray a noxious eye irritant if you tick them off.
An entomologist from UF told me that one of his fellow bugnerds was sprayed and spent 24 hours in excruciating pain.
I'm glad the kids listened for once. Before we went out, I discussed hazards and told them if they caught anything they weren't sure of, they should not handle it and bring it to me immediately.
There must have been a zillion of these out there. It was a good day even if we did not practice a single test taking skill.
The students learned that the seemingly "dead" pasture grass was supporting a busy community of various insects, spiders, lizards, and snakes.
That's a pretty important concept.
Now they want to go out every day.
Of course we can't do that, but ...
sometimes, you just gotta bug out.