Greystone students to study science outside

Published 3:14 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Greystone Elementary students attend the dedication of the school's aquatics study center May 4. (Contributed)

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

GREYSTONE — When students return to Greystone Elementary after summer vacation, they’ll still get the chance to spend time outside — and on the water.

On May 4, the school dedicated its aquatics studies center, which will give students the chance to observe animals such as frogs, turtles, dragonflies and birds in their natural habitat.

Wayne Roberson, fifth grade teacher and leader of the outdoor classroom project, said all students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, will use the center, which consists of a man-made pond.

“All classes will utilize the pond as a place to observe the diversity of organisms the pond attracts,” Roberson said in an email. “Hopefully all students will learn more about nature through our pond.”

The pond, which cost $5,000 and was paid for with a CAWACO grant, was built in one day with students working side-by-side with volunteers from the Inverness TJ Maxx store, Hoover firefighters and school parents.

The aquatics studies center is part of the second phase of Greystone Elementary’s outdoor classroom. The first phase included a garden area for students to grow vegetables. Eventually, the garden area will include composting and worm gardening, Roberson said.

The second phase, the natural habitat area, is intended to attract as many types of animals as possible for the students to observe them, Roberson said.

“We are planting native plants in this area that will be attractors for different types of organisms,” he said.

The garden and natural habitat areas will eventually include storm water harvesting, plant and animal identification, an animal tracking station, a fruit orchard and nesting boxes.

The third phase, which will begin after the first two phases are complete, will include a nature trail on school property behind the school building.

“The nature trail will allow students to experience more diversity in observing plants and animals, plus give them a chance to go for a walk,” Roberson said.

Roberson said school officials are working with the Auburn University Extension Service and the Alabama Wildlife Federation to have the outdoor classroom become an official AWF Outdoor Classroom.