Highlands Students visit Tigertail Beach

Highlands Elementary fifth grade students learn science in an outdoor classroom. (Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec)

In my Communications role here at CCPS, I have the pleasure of witnessing the diverse classroom experiences in which our students take part—and many times they have me wishing I was back in the classroom as a student! Take science for example. Just last week, fifth grade students from Highlands Elementary School took their learning outside of the classroom—and not simply to the school garden or nearby park. They were able to visit Tigertail Beach in Marco Island for an exploratory science adventure!

“The trip allows for hands-on experiences which connect classroom learning to real-life science,” shares Principal Laura Mendicino. As part of the students’ learning and understanding of water sheds, students test the pH, salinity, and oxygen levels of the water at Tigertail and then discuss why the levels may be high or low. Students are then able to explore and identify the three types of mangrove trees that are located at the beach.

But according to Highlands Elementary’s Science Coach, Jolie Wilkinson, the students’ favorite part of the trip is dip netting and sieving, a process which allows students the ability to look at different types of shells and animals that live in the environment. Through that process, they are able to explore the structures and adaptations of both plant and animal organisms. (Much more exciting than reading through a classroom textbook!)

When the students return back to school for the day, they review the animals they found and discuss the adaptations needed for animal survival.

While this annual trip meets statewide science standards, our students are having too much fun to notice just how much they are learning and absorbing. I’d say that’s a win-win situation for all involved!

Jennifer L. Kupiec is the Specialist, Communications & Community Engagement Collier County Public Schools

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