Students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at Lybrook School in Lybrook, NM, visited the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park this month to experience firsthand some of the life science they have been learning in the classroom. The Rio Grande Nature Center is located along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. Ecosystem is the scientific word for a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. The ecosystem at the state park is riparian, meaning it is situated along the banks of a river. Therefore, the plants and animals in the Rio Grande ecosystem like a wetter habitat than do the plants and animals in many parts of the New Mexico desert.
Students first went on a nature hike to observe plants and animals. They saw and heard birds like the Bewick’s wren and the red-winged blackbird. They also looked for signs of gophers, porcupines, coyotes, and rabbits. Students showed their respect for the life around them by remaining on the walking path. The land surrounding the path might have nests of baby birds or habitat for other creatures. The students did not want to get off the path and hurt the animals or their habitat!
Next, students gathered to examine pond water like a water quality scientist does. The students used nets to gather pond organisms from the surface of the water. They then used pipettes, microscopes, and other magnifying devices to complete their scientific investigations.
The Science Around Us program at UNM was happy to host the students in Albuquerque. The support of Ms. Marietta Hoodless and Ms. Darlene Chiquito always ensures that our activities are fun and educational. Thank you to everyone at Lybrook School and the state park who helped make this field trip happen!
To go on a calm walk through nature, visit the state park next time you are in Albuquerque – just take Candelaria Road west from Rio Grande Blvd till it ends at the park.
In May, 6th and 7th graders from Cuba Middle School will also get to enjoy this trip, during their last week of school!