SINCLAIRVILLE – Children rushed in and out of classrooms eager to take part in scientific activities presented to them at the inaugural Project Wild Day at Sinclairville Elementary School.
This day was made possible by fifth-grade teacher Sandy Askin and Elementary Principal John Kwietniewski, who came up with the idea over a year ago.
Students pre-K through 5th grade spent the first half of the day going to activity stations outside, but the activities were taken inside for the last half of the school day due to rain.
Teachers, college professors and professionals came together to spend a whole day teaching children about nature.
“We did a mini version of this last year, but we jumped right into it this year,” Askin said. “We had a plan and it was seamless. I was trained in Project Wild and wanted to get the whole school to do it. It was perfect.”
Cassadaga Valley sent high school students to be helpers for the event. They each felt this day was much better than the field days they had when they were elementary students.
“It is cool for them to interact with different speakers,” junior Molly Bouton said about the comparison of field day versus Project Wild Day. “Exercise is really important, but this balances it out more.”
Sophomores Ashley Repine and Crystal Forbes, Bouton and seniors Natalie McQuiggan and Ashlee Skinner all volunteered their time.
“I feel like it’s a great education for kids,” Bouton said. “It keeps them engaged in what they are doing. It was nice to help out and watch them (students) interact with each other.”
Forbes enjoyed watching the different activities.
“I liked the students were out of class and still learning,” she said.
“It was really fun,” McQuiggan agreed. “All the kids were interested in all the activities.”
Skinner believes these students will take what they learned here home.
“It was a good way to have kids of all ages interested in the same things,” she said. “They will tell their parents what they saw.”
“It was awesome,” Repine agreed. “It was really amazing.”
Kwietniewski felt as though this day went beautifully.
“This day went wonderfully,” he said. “I would like to expand on it for next year.”
“It was a great opportunity to expose them and get them excited,” he added. “This didn’t cause a lot of demands on them.”
There are thoughts that maybe the beginning of the year would be better for Project Wild Day rather than the end of the school year.
“We are doing one thing right after the other this way,” Kwietniewski said. “If we did it in September we could introduce them to the whole thing and show them additional things in their environment.”
The children have really had a blast participating in several natural activities.
“The various programs are all in the surrounding area,” Kwietniewski said. “It is a natural fit; kids love canoes, hiking, and just love nature.”
Askin was very pleased with how the day went.
“I would really like to keep doing this every year,” she said. “I really like the whole day event better, it works really well, and keeps the students engaged the whole day.”
The presenters really enjoyed the day as well.
Stockton Bee Keeper Kathy Petersen loved doing this project.
“This is such a neat project,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t know a bee keeper and I like to show how neat bees are.”
SUNY Oneonta Elementary Education Assistant Professor Dr. Carolyn Chryst had children write leaf poems and pound leaves into fabric.
“They (students) are enjoying it,” she said. “The idea behind poems and leaves is to combine English and science together, because of the new common core.”
Forecon Inc. Aborist Lori Brockelbank recalls doing something similar to this when she was in 5th grade.
“Being part of the conservation field days when I was in fifth grade is what made me want to do this,” she said. “Most girls didn’t do the job I am doing now back than. I wanted to play with trees.”
Twelve presenters came to the first Project Wild Day; among them were SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oneonta, Roger Tory Peterson Institution, Turnbull Nursery, Department of Environmental Conservation, and Forecon Inc.