Green School & PIERS
Swan Meadow received recognition as a Governor’s “Green School” in 2006 and Re-Certification in 2010. We are currently participating as a “Partners in Restoration and Ecology of Schoolyards” (PIERS) school. Environmental education has become an integral part of Swan Meadow School’s instructional program.
Environmental instruction is woven throughout our daily school curriculum. It can be found in our science and math classrooms as we collect and analyze data from our many projects. Graphs, tables, and research are seen throughout the school. Evidence of our love of nature is seen in our language arts classrooms in student’s poetry and short stories. The computer lab displays spreadsheets and matrixes used to tally data. Artwork reflects the many nature themes we study. Woodworking classes construct bluebird houses for each elementary school and cold frames for our garden projects. The library and classroom book corners include wonderful and informative nonfiction texts.
Environmental Investigations: SEEK (Swan Meadow Environment Education Kids)
Friday, April 24, 2009
During National EE Week we conducted several investigations in our schoolyard habitat. Students rotated through streamside stations that focused on water quality. We explored such topics as our local watershed, water quality monitoring, how vegetation affects the movement of water over land and collecting and keying microinvertebrates. We also designed SEEK T-Shirts (Swan Meadow Environmental Education Kids) with stream & meadow themes. Check out our photo on the National EE Week website:
Swan Meadow School is growing native wildflowers in a rain garden beside the school building. In the past five years we have designed, constructed, planted, weeded, deadheaded, and studiedour garden of native species. The plants are watered by rainwater falling off the roof into two connected barrels, then through the irrigation lines to the wildflowers growing on a gentle slope below.
Our rain garden helps our schoolyard’s ecosystem by providing a buffer between the school and nearby Cherry Creek, providing nectar to Monarch butterflies for our Monarch Watch project, and providing shelter and food for many other insects, birds, and butterflies. We collected seeds last fall and broadcasted them in a new section of our wildflower meadow. Our efforts are visible this summer in the meadow with new black-eyed susan, blue aster and bee balm growth.
Small Animal Sanctuary & Animal Blind
On our annual Spring Planting Day, April 28, 2005, parents David Swartzentruber and Calvin Schrock erected the Animal Blind located at the edge of the Small Animal Sanctuary. This Animal Blind was purchased with money from our Chesapeake Bay Grant and the PTO.
The Animal Blind is a camouflage netting stretched between two PVC pipes. From behind the blind students observe, collect, and record data concerning the wildlife in our Small Animal Sanctuary.
Bird & Butterfly Garden
We have a beautiful garden in front of our first and second grade classroom and office windows. Each spring we rake, mulch, and plant new flowers. We plant two different kinds of flowers. One kind comes up every year on its own like black-eyed susan and butterfly weed. The others we put in each spring, like pansies.
Birds, insects and animals love to visit our garden. We take turns feeding the birds each week. We have four bird feeders. Three hanging feeders and a window feeder. We feed the birds sunflower seeds and thistle seed. We also provide sugar water for the hummingbirds in the spring and summer months.
Chickadees, cardinals, sparrows, goldfinches, and nuthatches come to our feeder often. We observe them from our classroom window. We even have a fat, red squirrel who eats our birdseed. He is fun to watch. We release the monarch butterflies we hatch from caterpillars in our garden in the fall. This spring we will be observing and collecting data on the insects in our garden. We hope the offspring of some of our monarchs will return!