What’s so special about the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary?
Imagine a giant sponge that goes as deep as 60 feet, where mid-July there is still ice. Blaine Wetland Sanctuary (BWS) is an open space, natural area that includes specialized wetland called a fen. A fen is a type of wetland with a high water table and acidic, peat soil. Located in an outer ring suburb of the Minneapolis and St. Paul area in Minnesota; people from the community, city of Blaine, state agencies, and research groups are working together to conserve and learn about this special place.
It’s a living laboratory- for scientists of all ages! The plants and geology of the BWS fen are especially unique to Minnesota, and the world. The peat soils have preserved seeds of rare plants over hundreds of years and restoration continues in order to support the fen’s ecology. BWS is an open space where the 1 mile long boardwalk offers nature’s show interconnected land, air, water, and living things. The boardwalk leads to two geologic islands, connected by path. The forested islands are in sharp contrast to the wetland areas vistas.
How can I visit?
Blaine Wetland Sanctuary is a park open to visitors like you! It is free of charge to visit. People gather at the fen of BWS for many reasons- exercise, scientific research, birding, star gazing, reflection, field trips, and events.
Two open houses for educators are scheduled at Blaine Wetland Sanctuary in fall 2018: Monday, September 10th 3-5pm and Thursday, September 20th 3-5pm. Participants are encouraged to register to receive free lesson plans. Growing Green Hearts leads students and groups on eSTEM field trips at Blaine Wetland Sanctuary and you can find out more about by contacting Heidi here or by connecting with the City of Blaine here.
What’s do the lessons look like?
Consider the BWS boardwalk more than a field trip, but a learning lab itself. Innovative and site-based, all lessons are based in eSTEM (environment, science, technology, engineering, and math) and designed by Growing Green Hearts. Current research, use of maps, and scientist’s stories are woven throughout. The series of five seasonal lessons standards-based, and can be used individually or together, combined with a trip to Blaine Wetland Sanctuary. Each lesson can be treated as a tour and each stop on the tour becomes a mini-lesson.
The first lesson, “Welcome Hike & Belly Biology” is designed to introduce people of all ages to the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary any time of year. Four additional lessons teach systems-thinking by learning through the seasonal changes the area has to offer. Students from K-12 can experience all four seasonal lessons also gain an intense local phenology experience of biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. If your school or group chooses to schedule a tour, it will be adapted to the age level and curricular needs of your group.
The curriculum pieces developed for BWS work to embrace the vision of the Next Generation Science Standard’s 3-D learning by weaving into the student experience both content and skills with relevant interdisciplinary community connection opportunities.
Science education strategies utilized are the 5E model with hands-on practice of science processes of engineering design and the scientific method. The 5E’s are: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.
It’s fun with the fen! Here are the 5 site-based lessons:
- “Blaine Welcome Sanctuary Welcome Hike & Belly Biology” (all seasons)
- “Fall FUNology with Phenology at Blaien Wetland Sanctuary” (fall)
- “Frozen Secrets of the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary Fen” (winter)
- “Blaine Wetland Sanctuary Springs Alive!” (spring)
- “Superhearoes & Systems at Blaine Wetland Sanctuary” (summer)
Play. Learn. Love nature.