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Science Sundays in the Park - People are the Best!

Science Sundays in the Park - People are the Best!

Written by Jan Gebert
September 09, 2019

Today is the final meeting for Science in the Parks, an amazing project for me for the last nine months. We began as a group of college professors, National Park Rangers, National Writing Project staff and elementary teachers. Our task? To create science activities for students and their families with seed money funded by the Joan Ganz Cooney Foundation. The activities must include writing, science and technology and take place in a national park. I am now associated with the Pocono Writing Project of East Stroudsburg University, having become a National Writing Fellow, Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2009. Our newly formed group of professionals have met for months and created six Sunday activities that engage 4th grade students and their families.

Jan with Marble and Piper, now BARK Rangers!

So, the first question of the day: What is one wonderful story that you can share about your experience?

My life has certainly expanded through the relationships I have built through working with wonderful people. I grew my relationships with East Stroudsburg University faculty. People who were formerly casual workmates are now trusted and respected colleagues who I would follow into battle. I met wonderful 4th grade teachers from our partner school. Some of us are now trained as National Park Ambassadors and plan to spend some free time hiking and greeting visitors to the park. Our park staff at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is fabulous. Each ranger and intern is special and brings passion and caring about the outdoors and the public into every action in the park. I now have wonderful new friends in my life.

My heart is warmed by the action of the families who participated in our program. Parents, siblings and extended family were all invited to participate. It is joyful to observe a family arrive in their van; the whole gang (with perhaps the family dog) pours out and heads to our registration table. Students and families all share in the activities of finding little critters in the water, soil testing, using binoculars, making weathervanes and writing Poet-tree. They share ideas and do each inquiry while “Thinking Like a Scientist.” They explore different areas of the vast DWGNRA and realize they want to visit this park again and again. Our last day, our Celebration Day, a mom said to me, “I can’t believe this is over; I want to do this all summer.” There is the most beautiful statement a teacher can hear.

Lastly, I didn’t anticipate the interactions we would share with other visitors to the park. Our stations were set up in public areas. We often had an out-of-state family walk up to our tables and ask what was happening. We were able to share our love of the outdoors, our reverence for nature, and advise visitors of terrific areas to explore.

What is the best outcome of this experience for me? People, people, people. Students, families, teachers, college professors, and park visitors. All had the same goal…celebrating and learning about our beautiful outdoors.

Jan Gebert
National Writing Fellow, PSLV, 2009
East Stroudsburg University, PSED Adjunct Faculty