Crellin's 5.5 acre Environmental Education Laboratory (EEL) was created as part of a reclamation project to remedy the effects of acid mine drainage. Each part of the EEL was designed with student learning in mind. Under the trails are pipes that funnel the groundwater to two treatment ponds. These ponds are lined with limestone and feed into the wetland area. There is a boardwalk over the wetland which provides students a place to learn about the wetland's function. The boardwalk ends at the hemlock forest, another ecosystem for students to explore, and it borders Snowy Creek. In addition, there are two vernal pools and multiple gardens (not seen in the photo above). The amphitheater provides a place for gatherings and for sledding in the winter! Below we highlight three of the areas we use for teaching and learning.
The wetland, located in the Environmental Education Laboratory on school property, provides the perfect place to study this unique ecosystem. All third grade students explore the functions of the wetland through a series of hands-on activities. These activities model how a wetland works and how it benefits the environment.
Biological Stream Study
Snowy Creek runs along the school boundary allowing students to walk through our Environmental Education Laboratory to reach it. All 135 students in all grades participate in biological stream studies. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students participate by wading in the stream to turn over rocks and locate and identify benthic macro-invertebrates. First grade through fifth grade students use kick-nets to collect samples to identify. All students also engage in a series of activities to prepare to identify the water species. During the cold winter months when we cannot get in the stream we use leaf packs to collect the samples.
All students assist in the vegetable garden. It has six raised beds and is used yearly to grow fresh vegetables that we use in the classrooms and in the cafeteria. Throughout the summer students and parents use the vegetables at home. Our youngest students assist by mulching around the raised beds. First and second grade students till the garden beds and move any needed soil into the beds. Fifth grade plans for the planting by measuring the space needed for each plant and marking the soil for planting. Third and fourth grade students plant the vegetables and label each raised bed.