Braving weeks and weeks of exploring, analyzing, hiking, and at times even appreciating all the aspects of the Elkhorn Slough a group of courageous 2nd- 5th grade students completed a multi-week after-school program at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. This arduous ordeal culminated last week in a one day event in which the students were tasked with creating a capstone project revealing what they had learned at the Slough. Tensions ran high as the students desperately rushed to complete their projects and frantically flipped magazine pages searching for the perfect pickle weed picture and debated about how the various water quality instruments should be drawn. At the end of the day their capstone would be displayed in public to be meticulously judged and evaluated by program leader Peggy and EFTA intern Karina, also know as “la bruja” among the 4th and 5th graders.
At least that’s how it should’ve been considering this cut throat world. The Elkhorn Slough Explorers Club, also known as the Estuary Explorers, is an after school program that started this 2014-15 school year with Elkhorn Elementary School. The 2nd-5th grade students go to the Slough every Wednesday to learn about the environment and discover the wonders of the Slough. Their Wednesday afternoons start with a snack followed by a hike, looking at microorganisms at the lab, and getting guest field projects by the various talented Elkhorn Slough researchers.
This last week the Estuary Explorers worked on their capstone projects, signifying the end of their after school program. The students got into groups of 3-4 and drew, colored, and pasted pictures of the animals, plants, and research that occur at the Slough.
At the end of the day the projects were displayed at the Visitor Center where the parents could walk around and have the children explain and teach what they have learned this past year. Food was also provided by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. The projects were also supposed to be judged and evaluated and only one project would be deemed the winner but it seems that the sense of competition was lost in a sea of laughter, face painting, and snacks. Among other things that were lost, so was the origin story of why EFTA intern Karina is known as “la bruja,” among the students. Perhaps some things are best left unknown.