Philomath Middle School Environmental Sciences Projects Page


Philomath Middle School Special Places Program

by Sarah Tofflemire and Chelsea Gunn, fifth graders at P.M.S.

Special Places is a program started by Pam Wilson, a fifth grade teacher at Philomath Middle School. She has gathered ideas from many different people over several years and combined them into one program. The Special Places program is a great environmental science class for middle school students. During Special Places, teachers take their students outside to an old overgrown Christmas tree farm on the school grounds. In Special Places, we spend a lot of time with field work. We go out once a month and begin each outdoor visit with group measurements. For group measurements, we always meet in the same spot. During group measurements, we do wet bulb/dry bulb, which will give us relative humidity. We also take soil temperature, soil pH, wind speed/direction, sunrise/sunset, cloud type, and general weather observations. Once group measurements is over, we head out to our individual Special Places with our assignments.

Our Special Places assignments are usually pretty fun. Sometimes we collect mushrooms to make spore prints and things like that. We often have charts to tell what our special place was like the month before, what it's like now, and what we predict it will be like next month. Sometimes we write poems or stories. We always have more than one assignment to keep us busy.

Once we are back in our classroom, we transfer our information to an index card. We get one card per month. At the end of the year, we will each make a book out of the cards. The cards will be in proper order, first month to last. The books will contain the information that each students has collected during the year.

It not only provides very important information about the community's environment, but it also gives kids a chance to learn skills that will be useful in many fields of science. This program will give kids a head start on science classes they will have to take in the future. As you can see, Special Places is a great learning experience for all involved.

This photograph of Suzanne Phillips was taken at her "special place" by teacher Pam Wilson in 1995. The students' special places are located between the Middle School and Newton Creek, as shown on the aerial photograph.

Table of Special Place Data

Special Places Small Mammal Trapping Project

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