BAR HARBOR— The education team at Acadia National Park, with help from Friends of Acadia, has created outdoor science kits to use in outdoor instruction for all schools in the local district. A total of 2,500 grade-specific kits, which include both consumable and durable materials, were delivered to each school during the last weeks of September.
The “nature study kits” contain items such as build–your–own–barometer kits, bug boxes, rain collection jars, liquid gauges, tree cookies, hand lenses, mini springs to measure wavelength properties, thermometers, compasses, make–your–own–pinwheel kits, and more. There are many linked activities on the Acadia National Park Website that students can use the kits to complete.
Mount Desert Regional School System Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Julie Meltzer said she is excited about the recent partnership with Acadia National Park. “Acadia has continued its commitment to help kids understand the outdoors,” she said, adding that the staff and students are grateful for their generous contribution. Acadia National Park has been working with local schools in similar ways for almost three years, said Meltzer, but the kits, which are available to all students, helps ensure a level the playing field for kids who don’t have access to such tools at home. Schools were initially provided with backpacks for these outside lessons, with materials to share, but that approach had to be reconsidered because of COVID-19.
According to Lynn Hannah, third-grade teacher at Conners Emerson school, these new kits promote science literacy and are a “great addition to the outdoor classroom.” She said that having individual materials for each student helps tremendously with health and safety. The kit’s clipboard, journal, colored pencils, rulers and pencil sharpeners have also saved teachers some out-of-pocket expenses for school supplies.
Though the kids have only been in school for a week, Hannah said that so far “the kids love them and are excited to put them to use,” and have already started bringing them outside.
Kathie Petrie, the educational coordinator for Acadia National Park, thinks these kits are “just a piece of what teachers need to educate their kids.” The park staff hope these kits will help with school’s science programs for students to predict, observe and ask questions to form their own hypotheses.