Updated 05/22/2012 06:51 PM
Kids get feet wet through Nature in the City
Some Syracuse students left the classroom and headed to a nearby stream Tuesday, all for the love of nature. Third graders from Roberts School on the city's Southside spent the afternoon in nearby Elmwood Park. Our Kat De Maria takes us there.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- They looked like fish out of water, except in water. There were a lot of whines and moans and basketball sneakers in the stream at Elmwood Park Tuesday.
"We are catching animals, like creatures in the water. Creatures. They are not mammals," said Maggie Boyle and Kieley Carrasquillo.
The third graders from Roberts School on Syracuse's Southside were testing the stream as part of Baltimore Woods Nature Center's Nature in the City program.
"For the majority of the kids, they haven't had a chance to be interactive with nature before," said Baltimore Woods Education Manager Katie Mulverhill.
"They're like screaming and stuff and I'm like 'Get used to it,'" Boyle said.
"They're new to this, like him. He's new to this," Carrasquillo said.
"You're new to this?" we asked Nick Romeo.
"Pretty much," said Romeo, who was wearing his teacher's floral rain boots. "I couldn't go in with my shoes."
After only a short time, things were looking a lot more natural on the nature outing. And one little guy netted a pretty big crayfish.
"That fear isn't there anymore. And they're really just hands on. And that's the best way to learn," Mulverhill said.
Elmwood Park isn't far from the kids' school or even where some of them live. So in addition to learning something, they may even come back.
"Nature is around is all the time. And they're a part of it. It isn't something you have to travel for," Mulverhill said.
That's the theory that has Professor Robert Bixler, a land management expert at Clemson University, up all the way from South Carolina studying the success of the Nature in the City Program.
"We think what's going to happen with this program is that the kids are going to learn the science processes with the same or better success than they would in the classroom, but because it's their own backyard, and they're going to go by it and see it and be reminded if it, it should be more meaningful to them," Bixler said.
Bixler says the program could become a model. And it would be worth it to see Air Jordans in streams all across the country.
Through Nature in the City, staff from Baltimore Woods visit Syracuse's elementary school classrooms three times each, including trips, throughout the year.