With St. Patrick’s Island being reopened to the public after major restoration and redevelopment in the summer of 2015 we knew that we wanted to take advantage of the park’s proximity to our school and utilize the space for field study with our grade six students this year.
We visited the island in September to give students time to explore the space to see and experience what the park had to offer visitors. We have since started visiting the island monthly and students are engaging in two activities: spending time in a “Special Spot” and conducting a longitudinal research study. Students were asked to locate one special area on the island that they would like to return to each visit.
During this time, they make careful observations and record their experiences in their field study journals as they sit quietly in nature. Throughout our visits to the island, students have developed a variety of ways they will record the changes and their experiences in their field study journals. For their longitudinal research studies, students have identified an individual research question related to the island to explore how different phenomena change over the course of the school year and what impact this may have on our city.
Our first visit to collect data was in November and it was so inspiring to watch and work with students as they engaged in this independent work all over the island. They brought any tools and materials required for measuring and collecting data and lived as scientists and researchers as their knowledge of and connection to the island grew. Since this visit, students have been asking insightful questions, and continually modifying their research questions and approach. We can’t wait to see how our time at City Hall School enhances our understanding of the island and to see where this learning takes us over the course of the school year.