One-Week Institute for Grades 3-8 Educators
Exploring the Berkshires: From the Top of its Mountains to the Bottom of its Ponds
Our participants spent a week this summer investigating the amazing living laboratory of Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains. These ancient formations offered a unique opportunity to explore the geological and biological interconnectedness of the region through inquiry-based, “hands-on, minds-on” science. The Berkshires are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world; through weathering and erosion, these ancient rocks have deposited Pleistocene-era minerals into the watersheds that have created and supported life forms found in few regions of the world.
As geologists, we walked the ancient bedrock and investigated glacial striations and formations to better understandgeologic time. As hydrologists, we identified and modeled the paths water takes through and down the mountains. During our explorations we collected samples of the minerals that have found their way into the local lakes, ponds and rivers below. Taking on the role of biologists, we investigated how the local flora and fauna evolved as the region aged. We learned to use 21st century tools like mobile devices for collection of data in the field, and will return to the classroom to analyze and interpret that data. And finally, as artists, and for our “capstone” project, we took our field data and created a digital art project that told a story of how scientific processes have shaped the landscape of the Berkshires.
Throughout the week, we linked all of our investigations back to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, including technology and the arts, and the revised MA Science and Technology/Engineering Standards. Participants engaged in science and engineering practices, and identified ways to integrate what they learned into their teaching and into their classrooms. Standards-aligned model curriculum units were provided as a jumping-off point to develop your own lessons/units.
Partners: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Center for Learning in Action (CLiA, Williams College), The Trustees of Reservations