‘By George, It’s Science!’

Evansville science education program honors teacher’s father

by Shane Gibson, Environmental Education Director

— This article was originally printed in the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of our newsletter, The Twig. See a PDF of the complete newsletter.

“Are we going outside today, Mr. Gibson?” “Can we play coyotes and rabbits again?” It was my second visit with the fifth grade students at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville, and they couldn’t wait to participate in the predator-prey activities from the week before. It wasn’t in my lesson plan for the day, but educators are flexible. Learning through play is wonderful, and the kids were excited about it. So we made it happen.

A lively game of “coyotes and rabbits” dramatically demonstrates predator/prey interactions, habitat needs, and population fluctuations.

Connecting Sycamore Land Trust’s Environmental Education Program with the Evansville Community School District’s Glenwood Learning Academy has been a perfect educational partnership. Sycamore Board member and Evansville resident Greg Meyer introduced me to Jennifer Roll and her educational endeavor, “By George, It’s Science!”

Jennifer started “By George, It’s Science!” to honor her late father, longtime Indiana University biology professor George Hudock. She saw a need for elementary students to be immersed in the life sciences, so she forged a relationship with Glenwood fifth-grade teachers and Bosse High School to provide activities and field trips for the elementary grade students.

Sycamore’s Environmental Education Program has joined the partnership to provide nature-based lessons at Glenwood. This expands the learning opportunities for students as they make connections from their field trips, lessons with Bosse High students, and now with Sycamore. Predator-prey, producers- consumers, habitats, bio-accumulation, and the inter-connectedness of all the components of life are just the beginning of what we’ve studied.

Jennifer Roll says, “Partnering with Shane at Sycamore Land Trust has given ‘By George, It’s Science!’ many more opportunities to see my father’s legacy live on. As a long-time family friend says, ‘he continues to teach.’ If we can reach children and inspire a love of nature and life sciences, we will all benefit.”

Students at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville participate in a web of life activity.

The Glenwood Leadership Academy campus is a lovely place with mature trees and a large open field where I watched a red-tailed hawk hunt during my first visit. A dragonfly made an appearance for students on an unseasonably warm November day. The discoveries and learning opportunities are limitless with these fifth graders, who relish any opportunity to go outside.

I love working with these students, and appreciated this note from fifth-grade teacher Stacey Hartz: “Thanks, Shane! The kids are really learning and making connections! We love having you!”

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy nature.