After all the fireworks barbecues and picnics of the 4th of July weekend, Students on Chicago’s west side woke up and got ready to learn. On July 5th After School Matters, Providence Saint Mel and Project Exploration joined together to begin the first day of Environmental Adventures. The 6 week program will develop high school students into experts on the environment and the art of teaching so during the school year they can act as after school instructors for middle school children. Although most students had little time with nature, all teens shared the experiences that they loved in nature, from fishing with an uncle as a young child to picnics just this weekend. Students also expressed their excitement in getting out into their surroundings and making a difference. “I want to clean up around lake in the park up the street” said one student, “The water is brown, is water in a lake supposed to be brown?”
The facilitator, Kyle Reid insist that Environmental Adventures is most important because it allows students to learn about what they are passionate about. “When we are interested in something like nature we learn about it, when learn about nature then we care about it, when we care about nature we take care of it. In a city like Chicago young people don’t get a chance to cultivate their interest in nature because they don’t see how it affects them. This program is going to fill in those missing pieces.“
This week students focused on animal tracking, learning about animal specialization, teeth specialization and appendage specialization. Students also discussed topics like evolution, pollution and nutrition.