Fairley Elementary students travel to Sterling Nature Center

Second-graders at Fairley Elementary School ventured into Cayuga County on Oct. 17 to visit the Sterling Nature Center.

The nature center has more than 10 miles of hiking trails and two miles of lake shore.

Stephanie Griffin’s second-grade class started their day with a teacher-lead lakeside trail walk. Along the walk, students were asked to look and listen to nature sounds, and pick up three leaves to use later in a leaf rubbing session.

The second-graders kept a safe distance as Lake Ontario’s rolling waves crashed into the rock shoreline. Students learned that rocks near the water’s edge are smooth and flat, the perfect shape for skipping.

Other rocks found near the Great Lake contained fossils. Students were fascinated by two trees on the shore that had been overturned, roots exposed.

Before breaking for an outdoor bagged lunch under the pavilion, students toured the visitor’s center. Inside, they saw preserved animals, animals that they could find in their own backyards. Griffin’s students were particularly interested in the coyote and flying squirrel on display.

Second-graders also went on a nature walk with guide Jim D’Angelo. Students in Lisa Bailey’s class trekked down to the rookery, where the herons nest. Ducks, a beaver dam and a bald eagle were all spotted on the trail.

During the second session, Bailey had her class do leaf rubbings and habitat relay races. Each student picked a plastic animal toy, and had to categorize the animal into its natural habitat, either water, forest or field.

The leaf rubbings were done with crayons at the picnic tables. Students placed a leaf on the table, covered it with a sheet of paper, and used the side of a crayon to shade the leaves veins. They were then asked to write a sentence about its texture, or what tree the leaf came from.

Transportation for the field trip was paid for through a grant from Novelis. The Home and School Association also provided a portion of the cost.

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