Webology at Fontenelle Forest
John Muir once said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Students in the Omaha metro area are proving this to be true as they study the connections between living (and dead) creatures in the forest in our Webology program.
Through generous support from the Midlands Community Foundation and the Omaha Schools Foundation, every 3rd grader in Bellevue Public Schools and every 4th grader in Omaha Public Schools gets to experience first-hand the food chains and food webs that make up this ecosystem. As they hike through the forest, students discover producers, consumers and decomposers, and stop along the way to investigate and draw the food webs they see right in front of them. As students compare their observations, they start to notice that each of their drawings could be connected to one another in a never-ending cycle of energy throughout the ecosystem.
These forest classes also help build the framework through which students view their world, and serve as a reference point for the rest of the school year. Later in the year when their teacher mentions a decomposer, the students immediately remember the way the jelly fungus jiggled when they touched it, or the way the fallen leaves smelled as they crunched down the forest trails. When discussing how plants use photosynthesis to capture sunlight, students feel the sunlight filtered through the Bur Oak trees onto their faces. And when consumers are brought up, they instantly think back to the deer they saw chewing on young hackberry trees.
Webology is just one of the many amazing programs that bring students out to the Forest to put on their scientist hats and observe nature, and maybe to just take a moment to breathe in the cycles of life happening all around them.
Elizabeth Chalen, Director of Education