Animal classification, body characteristics, vertebrates vs. invertebrates - topics not often on the...

Winooski JFK Joins ECHO for Inquiry Science

Animal classification, body characteristics, vertebrates vs. invertebrates - topics not often on the tip of the tongue for an 8 year old, but at JFK elementary in Winooski today, the students were on topic! The sixty 3rd graders at JFK have just completed 6 hours of science inquiry with ECHO learning about animals with a backbone that live in the Lake Champlain Basin. Their attention to detail - such as the stages of a frog's life cycle - provided animated discussions around scientific evidence in species identification using teeth, skulls, movement, temperature regulation and body coverings. What was really engaging were the number of personal stories students told about observations of life in their own back yards. As one little girl said, "I once saw a hummingbird in my yard. It was sucking the juice from a flower thingy. It was fascinating. I think I will start my own nature photo album. This ECHO stuff is pretty neat." High praise from an 8 year old who could be a future environmental scientist tackling our local lake issues... Onward!

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  1. Bravo for this Hands-On kind of learning. Nothing virtual about it - real learning with real contact, resulting in real connections. Education at its best.

  2. At seeing the image of the little hands and the diminutive amphibians (though they look manufactured) I'm compelled to share one of the things to keep in mind when handling frogs, or any amphibians for that matter: the nature of their skin. Their skin is far more 'permeable', meaning it absorbs more chemicals than our own. Before handling an amphibian, it's best for the little herp if you dip your hands in nearby ponds, rivers, streams or wherever the frog might be spending the aquatic part of it's amphibious lifestyle. Bear in mind, washing with tap water sometimes exposes the amphibian to chlorine or, worse, chloramines, chemicals used to treat municipal water: it's still best to 'take a dip' after washing your hands. Though we're living in Vermont and winter isn't over until it says so, spring is just around the corner. Keep an ear out for the hundreds of Spring Peepers soon to emerge from hibernation, when you hear them, Spring has sprung!


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