Students get hands-on learning
It was non-stop learning at the Richards Ranch for 258 Jacksboro Elementary students last week at the annual Kids on the Land science program. There was plenty to learn on the ranch, but the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders quickly showed they were ready to learn with great vocabulary and thinking skills already in place.
When instructors posed questions, eagerly waving hands went up showing these kids had already mastered complicated vocabulary like microbiology, entomology, and biodiversity. In non-stop learning sessions they showed they had the skills to focus on the project at hand with great curiosity.
Kids on the Land is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program designed to teach children about the region where they live. For the eighth consecutive year, the Hackley and Salmon families sponsored the event at their Richards Ranch. The KOL program is led by the award winning director, Peggy Maddox of Hermleigh, Texas.
The third grade class concentrated on entomology under the leadership of leading entomologist Paul Martin. Their study of insects ended with the students releasing ladybugs back into the environment.
The fourth graders spent their time learning about plants, collecting specimens and learning to keep a naturalist’s journal under the guidance of wildlife biologist Ricky Linex, a USDA plant specialist. They learned the history of Jack County from its early geological periods through the Spanish and French occupations, the Indian tribes and the arrival of American settlers. They heard the history of the Richards Ranch which was established by Hackley ancestors more than 150 years ago.
The fifth grade class learned about the importance of water to land conservation in studies of pond life and land use to protect and care for the land. The big event for them was taking specimens from a pond and learning how the pond life reflects the health of the land and water.
Elementary school principal Dr. Tina Alvarado said this program that gets Jacksboro’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders out to the ranch is greatly beneficial.
“It’s the real world and it makes it great that they can learn in their own backyard,” she said. “They can apply those skills they learn here in the classroom.”
Assisting Maddox, Linex and Martin were members of the Hackley and Salmon families and numerous volunteers from Jacksboro and across the state.