School groups come to Westminster Woods to engage in hands-on, experiential education in our 200 acre outdoor classroom . While here, our professional Teacher Naturalists design lessons to inspire curiosity, student collaboration and investigation. Students engage in redwood ecology hikes, challenge course adventures, and stream studies in Dutch Bill Creek. To further enhance this exceptional experience, we have added a new microscope lab! This lab allows students to explore the world around them on a new level: the microscopic level!
Students might collect benthic macro invertebrates in the creek and then use the microscopes to observe the structure and function of a dragonfly nymph. Students may conduct a lichen investigation and then use the microscopes to compare the structure within different lichens. Students might use the microscopes to make observations of patterns within redwood cones and then utilize their journals to make detailed scientific drawings. Students may investigate decomposition within soil and discuss their findings with peers.
The microscope lab was built to support our teaching of Next Generation Science Standards and has already been a hit with students! Students have been able to discover a whole other world within natural objects they observed while hiking and exploring throughout Westminster Woods. Their curiosity and enjoyment can be witnessed as students interact with the microscopes. Exclamations of “I’m a scientist!” and “this is so cool, can we come back again, later?” can be heard as students react with wonder and awe of their new discoveries.
We are grateful to the generosity of the Margaret V. Ping Foundation and excited to use our microscopes as tools to bring science and learning alive.