Sunday, July 28, 2019

Week 4 - The best part about working with kids (Piers Park)

Welcome back!

     This week we had a lot of new faces at Piers Park. As fun as it is to really get to know the kids that are a part of our programming, it's equally as nice to meet new ones. We also had a change in our staff at Piers: Flo and Kamal joined the Piers Park crew going forward, and they are great to work with.

     This week came with a lot of experiences that were pretty new to me. After a pretty usual Monday of meeting new campers and greeting returnees, Mother Nature threw a wrench in our plans with an ill-timed rainstorm on Tuesday. So, instead of our regular programming of lessons and fishing, we had to improvise and quickly create a game of harbor-themed Jeopardy! Creating the game was actually more fun than playing it with the kids: everyone on the staff had to figure out different categories, who knows what subject best, and which questions the kids could answer with a limited knowledge of harbor history and marine science.
Setting up for a lesson on the lawn

     Wednesday and Friday were particularly fun for me because we got to plan and teach lessons for the campers. On Wednesday we held a lesson on how animals defend themselves; Flo and Kamal led the lesson, and focused on crabs as an example because we mostly catch green crabs when we're fishing on the dock. Friday had a food chain lesson, led by Fatima, Sebastien, and myself. We taught the kids about the difference between consumers and producers, gave a few examples of consumers and producers, and finished off with how energy moves from one level of the food chain to the next. Afterwards, we led the kids in an activity designed to simulate the food chain. We had four groups of kids, each as a different animal (plankton, mussels, crabs, and seagulls were the animals we used) and, under the direction of the counselors, tried to "eat" animals lower then themselves on the food chain by tagging them. The game seemed to work for the first few rounds, but by the end we just had a mess of kids tagging each other and running around (very fun, but not educational). Although it needs work, I think we can re-design the game to the quality it needs to be one of our go-to lessons.

Getting everyone involved in the crab lesson
     Teaching these lessons is part of why Piers Park is my favorite site to work at out of all of the sites we offer programming at. There are lots of great things about this job: I get to work outside, I work with kids and animals, but the best part by far is teaching kids new things about the world. We've held all sorts of lessons at Piers Park, from crabs to tides to how the food chain works, but even outside of our official lessons I try to make all of our activities learning opportunities. We had one kid who really knew his way around a fishing rod, but didn't quite know how casting worked, so I taught him about how motion works with a fishing rod. Every time a new fish or bird showed up, the kids and I would talk about what it was, what it ate, and where it lived. Anything I didn't know, I would look up during lunch break or at home. It's great to not only learn something every day, but to help someone else learn something new as well.

Song of the week: Once You Say Hello. by Phony Ppl

Until next time,
     ~Colin McRae

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