CTL receives $20,000 grant

Posted:  Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 8:30am

The Davis Family Foundation has informed the Center for Teaching and Learning, a non-profit, K-8, demonstration school in Edgecomb, that it is the recipient of a $20,000 grant to fund the program Forty Days in the Woods at School.

This project, which will take place across the 2017-18 school year, will engage K-8 children as citizen-scientists and stewards of the environment by creating an outdoor learning center and curriculum. Students will conduct ecological, arboreal, and animal studies, in collaboration with mentor scientists and regional environmental agencies.They will spend at least one day a week on the school grounds, conducting field work in CTL’s setting of eight acres of pristine forest ecosystem and learning about the cycles and processes that keep such an ecosystem healthy. Led by science teacher Glenn Powers, the children’s field work will focus on five interconnected units of study.

Forest Health: Trees & Invasives will create forestry inventory plots (FIG); take invasive species inventories; examine tree health; monitor for forest pests; and use good forestry practices to compare a control plot.  

In Maine Mammals: Coyotes, Mice, Squirrels, & Deer, students will track coyote populations using cameras, scat or track markings, howling stations, and dissection of sterilized scat; determine limiting factors; create mouse and squirrel habitats to investigate long-term effects on coyote interactions; and track black-legged ticks and make connections among coyote, mouse, deer, and squirrel populations in terms of trophic cascades.

In Birds Through the Seasons, students will conduct inventories; investigate habitat creation, life cycles, and predator-prey relationships; create nesting boxes for native birds and waterfowl, inventory and analyze songbird calls, build and hang bird boxes; employ point-count protocols to identify and survey birds on the school grounds; and introduce a bird banding method. 

The Forest at Night will focus on nocturnal animals, including owls, porcupines, deer, and bats, along with the sensory experience of the forest at night.  Studies will include owl pellet dissections, owl walks, bat monitoring, owl tracking, mammal tracking cameras and sandboxes, a full-moon winter walk, and a study of nocturnal adaptations.

In Forest Floor: Terrestrial Invertebrates & Natural Cycles, students will create pitfall traps, coverboards, and dead log surveys, and research the roles of invertebrates in the forest ecosystem.  They will design a red-backed salamander study and compare invertebrate sampling methods, both passive and active.  They will also raise endangered ladybugs and release them into the school garden for future monitoring.

In developing the outdoor learning curriculum, CTL plans to collaborate with Maine Island Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Department of Conservation, Project Coyote, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, Maine Forestry Service, Biodiversity Research Institute of Maine, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Project Flying Wild, Cornell Ornithology Lab, Project Feederwatch, Great Bird Count, Maine Audubon, Firefly Watch, and Great Sunflower Project.