The Watershed Project at Smokey House

The Watershed Project at Smokey House

The Tutorial Center at Smokey House

The Watershed Project at Smokey House has been developed by The Tutorial Center over the past two years and is in its third year. It is aimed at 6th graders, although one school has regularly brought a mixed 5th-6th grade class.

Goals: There are three interwoven goals to the program:

  1. Science experience – Provide students with hands-on, inquiry-based environmental science field studies experiences as citizen scientists, based on the Next Generation science standards
  2. Connection to the land – Connect students to their local environment, building knowledge and understanding through intimate encounters with nature throughout the seasons
  3. Building community – Promote relationships among students who are geographically separated, building social connections that will support them when they move to large regional middle schools.

Program Structure: This field studies program begins with three full days of orientation and training at the Smokey House Center, involving students in experiential exploration of four water-based ecosystems – pond, wetlands/marsh, stream, vernal pool/spring. Students gain familiarity with various scientific tools (thermometers, chemical testing, kick nets, etc.) and practice making observations and collecting data, both qualitative and quantitative. Research questions are generated and projects planned for the year.

Then, once a month for the rest of the school year the groups come to Smokey House for a half-day to collect data and participate in activities related to the season and environmental science. In June, students present the results of their work.

Support and Instruction: The Watershed Project is supported by The Tutorial Center and Smokey House Center. We’ve also partnered with the Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District and the Watershed Alliance for extended resources and activities.

Our field studies instructors have a variety of expertise in science and education. We work closely with the school teachers to meet their curricular needs within the structure of our program. This program is meant to be an integrated part of the curriculum, not an add-on activity.

The school groups must come with the classroom/science teacher and enough other adults for appropriate supervision. For effective introductory field studies work, we find it is best to have groups of 4 to 6 students, and certainly no more than 8 in a group. For the year-long projects, students typically divide into sub-groups of 2 to 4 members.

Cost: The cost of the program is currently heavily subsidized by The Tutorial Center, with up to 50% provided by TTC.

Participating Schools:  Middletown Springs Elementary School (14-15, 15-16),  Tinmouth Elementary School (14-15, 15-16), Manchester Middle Elementary School (16-17)

Flexibility: Similar, shorter programs are available upon request, customized to schools’ curricula and schedules, such as a four-week Winter Ecology field studies, meeting weekly, or five-day Vernal Pool exploration.

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