Montevallo High School Honors Biology students, led by instructor Richard Colley, recently took a field trip to Cahaba Environmental Center at Living River to put their coursework knowledge into practice. The Cahaba Environmental Center is an outdoor education organization managed by Camp McDowell.
The MHS students participated in a number of different activities, including canoeing down the river to allow for sensory experiences, such as listening quietly or with deer ears. They stopped to read stories and poems at a halfway point, and then returned to the camp. Here the emphasis was on communication, teamwork, and taking in the beauty of one’s surroundings.
Students began looking for macro-organisms in the stream. Once collected, students split into teams to analyze biotic index, pH, turbidity, nitrates, velocity, etc. Lead students collected data from participants as they worked to analyze the numbers. This part of the experience emphasized environmental stewardship, watershed health, teamwork, science, and math.
Finally, students were able to build a watershed and do a watershed tarp activity. Students made connections on how a watershed is essentially a report card for the surrounding land and emphasized their data collection and its relation to big picture connections to the environment as a whole. Ultimately, students used their data to organize graphs.
“This was a really valuable experience for our students in drawing real world connections to our coursework,” said Principal Brandon Turner.