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Nature in the City

For most of the past decade, the Save the Rain program has partnered with Baltimore Woods to provide in-classroom education about green infrastructure and the restoration of Onondaga Lake as a part of the Nature in the City 3rd grade curriculum.

Nature in the City was developed by Baltimore Woods Nature Center to introduce Syracuse elementary students to science in their neighborhoods through classroom and green space lessons. Lessons explore ways that people interact with the urban environment and are designed to provide the knowledge base that leads to a sense of connection, ownership, and stewardship. In close collaboration with the SCSD Office of Science and Technology, we visit each K-5th grade classroom three times a year for a one-hour hands-on/minds-on natural science lesson that is designed specifically for each grade level.

Delivered by Baltimore Woods Nature Center Environmental Educators, each hour-long lesson is tied to the NYS Science Standards and are tailored to support the Elementary Science Core Curriculum. For third-grade students this curriculum focuses on “Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems” which includes investigation into why certain animals can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all in different habitats (adaptation); ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience; and investigating environmental changes (including human-influenced changes) and their possible solutions. They also learn about “Weather and Climate,” including the water cycle and natural processes.

These learning standards and core curriculum at the third-grade level continue to provide the perfect opportunity to deliver engaging science content with a focus on Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program to connect students to the innovative solutions implemented across Onondaga County to improve the health of Onondaga Lake and connect students with how they can get involved.

The 3rd Grade curriculum includes:

Lesson 1 - Telling the Story of Stormwater and “Save the Rain”

The first lesson 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.

Lesson 2 - Save the Rain, Clean the Lake – Healthy Water for Us and Our Aquatic Friends

The second lesson 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.

Lesson 3 - Stream Exploration at Elmwood Park & Green Infrastructure Investigation

The final lesson involves 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 creatures can help us better understand the water quality and how they act as indicators for pollution.

Featured Projects

Henninger High School Rain Garden

GIF – Missio Church

GIF – JMA Tech Cortland Ave

GIF – JMA Tech Coyne

GIF – Lodi Laundromat

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