Winter Ecology Trip
On February 11, a gloriously sunny and warm day, 40 seventh grade students traveled to Bear Brook State Park for the annual winter ecology trip. After strapping on microspikes and confirming their equipment, eight groups of students and their chaperones were led to their individual starting points by middle school science teacher Karen Robichaud. Aided by their compasses and maps, the students set off into the woods on their observation journey.
Every year since she came to teach at Derryfield, Robichaud has been taking the seventh graders out into the woods in the winter to observe both living and nonliving things. Animal tracks are the ultimate prize, but there is a sense of wonder to be found in ice patterns and trailblazing as well. Although the goal is to utilize compasses and map reading skills to reach Smith Pond, the students also revel in being outdoors, walking on (frozen) water, and gathering around a fire ring to drink hot cocoa with friends.
Although this year the hard-packed snow conditions made it difficult to clearly see animal tracks, the students were still able to identify the journeys of deer, snowshoe hare, and coyote. Snowshoe tracks indicated other humans had been hiking in the woods. The beaver dam and lodge and gnawed trees also showed signs of a winter life for unseen inhabitants. Afterward, a few students noted highlights of their trip:
“I found it interesting how many deer tracks we found, but we didn’t see any deer.”
“It was so much fun to find the pond. It made me and my group feel very accomplished!”
Karen Robichaud said, “If (the trip) inspires them to be interested in ecology, that’s great, but it is also a lot about learning to be independent.”
Located in Manchester, NH, The Derryfield School is a private day school for grades 6-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.