Address: Winn Brook Elementary School
97 Waterhouse Rd,
Belmont, MA 02478
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A significant portion of the Winn Brook PTA’s funds, over $15,000, is used to enrich students’ experience during the school day by bringing special enrichment programs into school and by bringing students to extraordinary places in the Boston area for field trips. The PTA pays for the buses and subsidizes field trip fees. Usually bus costs ranged from $330 for local field trips to $845 for more distant trips, and program fees ranged from $300 to over $1400 per program.
As humans continue to expand where we live, work, and play, many animals have had to adapt to making backyards and city parks their habitat. Each kindergarten class got a chance to investigate how amazingly adaptable birds, mammals, and amphibians interact with a constantly changing ecosystem. The students were thrilled to met a screech owl and box turtle brought by an informative and experienced Drumlin Farm educator. They learned the importance of observing and respecting wildlife.
The award-winning Tanglewood Marionettes presented underwater fantasy marionette shows to all the kindergarten and first grade classes. Based on the classic Chinese folklore tale “The Dragon King,” the performance showed the importance of persistence and of not judging others by their appearances. The kids watched in awe, with exclamations of “Wow” and “That was amazing!” heard throughout the shows.
New England Aquarium’s educators helped students see and gently handle live local tide pool animals while learning basic biology and anatomy. Students are well on their way to becoming good stewards to the environment and the living creatures in it.
Habitat’s educators brought dragonflies, mosquitoes and caddisflies into Winn Brook and helped students observe their behavior. This interactive program took place in a three-station format to enable students to examine small details of the specimens and learn about their life cycles. This enrichment activity was a fascinating complement to the first grade insect unit.
The first grade classes traveled to the nearby Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont. In small groups led by Habitat educators, students hiked through the woods and then went “meadowing” by using nets to sweep up little critters of all sorts from the fields. They placed the insects in glass jars in order to observe and discuss adaptations such as camouflage and body structure. The insects were released at the end. The students learned about the importance of insects to people and wildlife, as well as the importance of respecting even the smallest living things.
The first grade classes traveled to the hands-on science museum, The Discovery Museum of Acton. In this interactive learning center they were thrilled to experiment with magnets and learn about the effects of wind and water, sound and light energy, and engineering. These activities brought the students a new understanding of science. They also enjoyed the magnificent outdoor treehouse and nature playscape.
In March, the second graders enjoyed a visit from John Kenney of Patriot Siberian Husky Rescue of New England and his Siberian Husky, Teddy. Mr. Kenney is an experienced dog musher with forty years of experience who shares his experiences with all the Belmont elementary school second graders each year. In addition to letting the children get to know and pet Teddy, Mr. Kenney demonstrates how his dog sled works. This visit enriches the second grade unit on Alaska and brings to life the grueling Iditarod Dog Sled Race.
Second grade classes learned about the amazing and varied wildlife, landscape, customs, education, food and worklife in East Africa and to identify cultural differences and similarities. By seeing and touching authentic clothing and everyday objects from Africa, the students gained an understanding of a different way of life. Children experienced and talked about how we are all still the same on the inside even though we may appear different on the outside. Part of the funds charged by this program go to install water filters and other humanitarian projects through LifeWaterAfrica.
The second graders enjoyed becoming young anthropologists, comparing artifacts from Africa, Asia, South America, Europe, and Australia at one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. From beautiful ceramics and intricate textiles to towering sculptures of carved wood, students examined clothes, toys, and tools that people in different environments use around the world.
The students loved getting close to the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo, including getting to hold one of the largest snake skins most of them had ever seen. They expanded their knowledge of animal behavior and ecology while enjoying the thrilling experience of this engaging zoo.
This presentation brought owls and hawks, examples of birds of prey, into Winn Brook for the third graders to see close up. Students learned that because raptors are at the top of the food web, they are key indicators of how healthy an ecosystem is. The students loved hearing about the special features raptors have developed for survival and where they fit in the web of life.
In order to learn about the history of Massachusetts from the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims, the third graders went to experience what daily life was actually like at that point in history by visiting the fully functioning villages of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. They learned from native people dressed in historically accurate clothing who spoke from a modern perspective about the Wampanoag history and culture. From the 17th Century English Colonial Village, colonial Plymouth was brought vividly to life by actors who answered questions about cooking, candle-making, smithing and other interesting topics. The students got to experience an enhanced tour that included cooking and playing colonial games. They enjoyed the unique atmosphere of 17th-century Plymouth Colony and felt immersed in history.
The third graders learned from an in-school presentation about Paul Revere and then traveled to the Paul Revere House, a National Historic Landmark in Boston. Students wore mob caps and other costume pieces in order to be actors in the story of Paul Revere’s life. They toured the historically accurate house and were able to picture what life was like for this famous historical figure. This activity helped bring colonial times to life.
Fourth graders learned about the power of sound and vibrations. For this hands-on workshop, they worked in teams of four to brainstorm ideas, design, and build as strong a building as they could out of straws and sticks. Then they put it to the test by shaking it to see if it would survive an earthquake. The experience of creating their own buildings brought the Engineering standards to life.
The fourth graders chose a landmark from different states in the United States and created that landmark out of paper. The process involved cutting out shapes, pasting them on larger paper and then cutting out smaller shapes for more detail. The finished landmarks ranged from Cape Neddick Lighthouse in Maine to Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska to Seattle’s Space Needle in Washington.
Fourth graders toured the Boott Cotton Mill run by the National Park Service in Lowell. They heard and felt the deafening roar of the authentic mill equipment. In the Weave Room, which is filled with industrial grade looms running at top speed, students saw exactly how a working mill looked and would have felt to a worker. This is one of the largest industrial history exhibits in the nation. Students also saw pictures and discussed the history of the workers, particularly immigrants, in connection to their history curriculum.