KND students visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park

BRETHREN — Most local educators will tend to agree that the world’s best science classroom is located right in Manistee County’s backyard.

Brethren Elementary School fourth grade students that visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park pose for a group photo.

Brethren Elementary School fourth grade students that visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park pose for a group photo.

Teachers have the opportunity to utilize the many lakes, rivers and streams in this area for studying aquatic life. They also get the opportunity in many classrooms to even raise salmon and then release them after they finish studying their life cycle.

What also helps promote the educational experience is having the Manistee National Forest in this area to walk the many trails and study plants, animals and other species native to this area.

However just a short distance from Manistee County is many other outdoor educational experiences that  beckon to educators.

One of those is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park that offers many outdoor learning opportunities. Recently the fourth grade classes at Kaleva Norman Dickson Schools of Vivian Peck and Laura Terry made the trip to the park to take in a winter perspective of that area.

“We used snowshoes to get around the trails and it was a lot of fun for the kids,” said Peck. “While we were going around the trails we read animal tracks to figure out what type of animals lived in that area. They really had the chance to learn about the area and we were led by park rangers who filled us in on the details.”

Something else the park has an abundance of being located near the shores of Lake Michigan is trees and fauna of many varieties.

“We also identified the various types of trees that are located in the area and recorded those results,” said Peck. “It did go along with our science studies on plants and animals.”

One of the best things about the trip was it didn’t cost the district anything and with strapped school budgets that was a welcome gift.

“This trip was funded through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and it included funds for busing our students to that location.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been a part of  the national park system since 1970. It includes a 64-miles of beaches, forested wilderness islands, and  hiking trails. It also includes incredible scenery, some that can only be viewed by traversing the many trails.

Peck said the learning experience was second to none for the fourth grade students. She felt they gained a much better understanding of the terrain and wildlife located in the area with this hands-on type of learning experience.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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