LAUREL MOUNTAIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WILDLIFE PRESERVE
Laurel Mountain Elementary School is fortunate to own a small tract of land in the woods behind this school. Over the past few years, Mr. Earley and his classes have been building a wildlife refuge to help bring back some of the wildlife that had been displaced over the years.
This refuge has allowed students first hand experiences in planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining the wooded area that borders a part of our campus. This work has not only benefited the wildlife habitat but has also allowed for unique learning opportunities for the students. Not only do students apply concepts learned in all subject areas, they also learn to develop important social skills that allow them to communicate effectively, solve problems, and perform various tasks that require thought, planning, and assistance from group members.
The students work to provide suitable habitats for a wide variety of wildlife. The focus is to provide the 3 essential attributes to any successful wildlife habitat: food, shelter, and water. The goal is to establish a constancy for each of these essentials so that our wildlife preserve can support a diverse and well rounded web of life. From this effort, we hope to continue to provide a healthy and diverse wildlife habitat.
The students benefit from this learning environment in numerous ways. They learn to use natural resources available to them as they design and build various components to this large wildlife area. The students develop a stronger understanding of the science concepts taught in the fifth grade through their work and learning experiences in the refuge area. The life sciences are applied as the students learn about the native plants and animals that live in this area. The students develop a food web that includes all parts of the food chain from the producers to the various leveled consumers. Students make visual and pictorial observations throughout the year to keep track and classify living organisms. Students learn earth science concepts from the erosion projects worked on throughout the year. Students look at signs of erosion, weathering and deposition and solve various problems that are associated with the runoff from our school and roadside. The students also reinforce their understandings of physical sciences with the forces that act on the landscape. Both gravity and friction cause great changes over the course of a school year and these can be studied in seasonal observations. Finally, students work to develop various Texas landscapes to provide a variety of learning experiences for others to learn from. The students have built two meadows and will be growing native flowers and grasses. We have just completed a large prairie restoration project as an effort to bring back an unfertile leachy area. Two new ponds have been built over the course of the year to provide habitats and a water source for wildlife and we have also created a new “understory” garden in the prairie area. The students will have built the borders, labeled and planted native plants, and have continued to study the insects, butterflies, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other animals that use these areas as a food source. This overview is a very small sampling of the wide variety of projects and activities the fifth grade students have been designing and building for our school and community at large.
MAJOR FEATURES IN OUR PRESERVE
- Hummingbird garden at the prairie overlook
- Rock squirrel burrow at the pond overlook
- Woodland pond
- Prairie pond
- Two lizard habitats
- Cactus gardens
- Prairie (native grasses and wildflowers)
- Understory garden
- Frog pond
- Field mice habitats & meadows