Fieldwork Coordinator Update – February 2019


Fieldwork Coordinator Update – February, 2019

Date of Activity / Lesson:

February, 2019


Tryon Creek, OMSI, Oregon Zoo, Portland Mercado


Kindergarten – Animals in Winter


In the cold months, our kindergartners work together to consider: what do animals do in the winter? How did different animals survive? What animals are native to this area, anyway? In the classroom, students have added animals to a large frieze on the wall, they have created interactive mini tree habitats out of boxes, they are using books to research, and they are building animal habitat dioramas in shoe boxes. To aide in their investigation, students traveled to Tryon Creek Natural Area to learn how the forest changes in the winter. They will also journey to the Audubon sanctuary to learn more about how birds weather the season. Along these lines, an Audubon educator will visited the class to teach specifically about owls. Students worked together to dissect owl pellets to discover what the nocturnal birds eat. This year, the kindergarten students are applying persuasive argumentation to their unit. Based on research and evidence, each student will choose an animal that they think works the hardest to survive the winter and they will write a persuasive argument to backup their claim. Who would you pick?


4th and 5th Grade – Biomes


In the 4th and 5th grade classrooms, students are looking more closely at how climate creates environment in their study of biomes. This starts out with an overview of weather and climate and how they are different. A visit to OMSI helped to illustrate this through a hands-on presentation. Students then delve into creating climate maps of Oregon to see how precipitation and temperature impact the different regions of the state, thus creating different biomes. Students visit the Oregon Zoo as a further investigation into biomes and how fauna and flora vary depending on environment. Continuing this research, students studied the skulls from Oregon mammals as part of a traveling presentation from University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History. As a culminating activity, students will work together in small teams to create a biome showcase to share their learning with parents and other students.


7th and 8th Grade – Globalization


7th and 8th graders and focusing on food for their unit on global trade. This investigation started very locally as students considered what foods are most important to them. They wrote about a food with personal meaning, and then researched the origins of the raw ingredients in that food. Students went on to unpack several more big questions:

  • What is globalization and what does it mean to be part of a global society?
  • Why do people trade? Why do they trade food?
  • How does trade affect people, cultures, and the environment? What are the costs to trade?
  • How does globalization impact the food options here in Portland?


Students traveled to the Portland Mercado to learn about the organization’s history and interview food cart owners. They hosted a local coffee roaster (CSCS parent, Trevin Miller) and had the amazing opportunity to visit (via Skype) with a class of students in a coffee-growing region of Uganda. Gabe Sheoships, education director from Tryon Creek, gave a presentation on First Foods, the most important foods for local Indigenous peoples. A representative from Equal Exchange came in to talk about fair trade versus free trade, and in March, students will go on a tour of New Seasons to hear about their sourcing choices.


All of this research is adding to students’ individual investigations into a topic that connects food and the world–they’re looking at everything from ice cream to coffee, veganism to fast food. Students are in the process of creating podcasts that explore their own questions around this topic. With the help of experts, both local (including Mikey Neilson, a podcaster and Ken Jones at KBOO) and national (Maddie Oatman, the host of Mother Jones’ food podcast Bite), they’re writing, recording, and editing these podcasts. Ultimately, the podcasts will be submitted to National Public Radio, as part of their Student Podcast Challenge. Perhaps you will hear one of these stories on national broadcasting later this year!

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

Stay tuned for more updates of Place-Based Education (PBE) adventures at The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science.

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