Baltimore Woods

Save the Rain works with Baltimore Woods, through their Nature in the City program, to provide environmental education to every third-grader in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD). Educators from Baltimore Woods provide “hands-on, minds-on” lessons to students through three separate class sessions. These lessons are integrated within the SCSD science curriculum and focus on hands-on water quality and green infrastructure learning.

The first lesson is entitled “Save the Rain” and teaches students about the Onondaga Lake Watershed using an interactive watershed model. This model helps students understand where water goes when it rains and how pollutants impact our watershed, plants and humans. Students also learn about the County’s Save the Rain program and become familiar with the benefits of gray and green infrastructure in the City.

The second lesson, “Creatures of the Deep” introduces students to benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates (otherwise known as small, but visible to the naked eye, organisms without backbones that live around or in the bottom sediments of aquatic environments). Baltimore Woods educators bring in live samples of these creatures and allow students to observe and take note of adaptations that allow them to survive in their environment.

The final lesson, “Green Infrastructure Visit and Stream Exploration,” involved a fieldtrip to Elmwood Park! Students have a chance to explore green and gray infrastructure first hand before heading out to search for benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates in Furnace Brook. They learn about how these critters can help us better understand the water quality and how they act as indicators for pollution.

In 2019, the Baltimore Woods team was able to deliver all three lessons to every third grade classroom in the 19 elementary schools in the SCSD (over 1,500 students)! A pre and post-program assessment shows that students feel more empowered to keep Onondaga Lake clean as a result of Nature in the City. This, of course, is the goal of the Save the Rain program!

Learning the watershed model.
Getting hands-on in the classroom.
Netting critters in Furnace Brook with County
Executive Ryan McMahon!
Identifying macroinvertebrates in the field.