Our first unit of the year at Coastside Leadership Academy is Environmental Literacy. Last week our students started to learn about ecology surveys and the tools used to help the process. One tool is called a quadrat, which can be used to observe plants, animals, fungi, or other natural matter in a certain area. A quadrat is a square or rectangular frame of a predetermined size that is divided into equal quadrants and can be placed on the ground. Our students will be using the tool to collect data on the characteristics of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, but first they needed to build one.
Our goal is for students to develop skills throughout our unit and this project was a great opportunity for them to learn construction basics. Lindsay was so excited for this project because she loves to build things and it has always been her dream to teach students to use power tools.
The first step was the research and planning phase. Our students looked up how others constructed quadrats online to come up with a design and decide which materials were best. Some suggestions were wood, screws, nails, and string, or PVC pipe, screws and glue. After researching the supplies needed and cost on the local Ace Hardware’s website, our students decided to use wood to build the frame.
Next we gathered the supplies at Ace Hardware. Our students brought their supplies list and their cost estimates with them and looked up and down the isles for the best deals. We had two groups doing separate projects, but for cost savings they teamed up to buy screws and string in bulk. We were impressed with their budgeting skills!
Once we had all of the supplies it was Lindsay’s time to shine with a lesson on how to use her favorite power tools. Our students each got a chance to learn how to use the drills, hammers, and the power saw. She told them about the importance of safety goggles and wearing a mask when using the saw. Our students were really excited to try each tool and took great care while using them. It was fun to watch them use their creativity when facing minor setbacks from measurements off by a quarter inch, or the saw cut not being straight. They were learning to be flexible and also how to be resourceful to make things work with the pieces and tools they had.
When the quadrats were done, the students were beaming with pride. They all tried something new, succeeded, and are looking forward to future building projects. We brought them down to the Marine Reserve to show the Rangers and they were so impressed too!
From my perspective, this project with power tools exemplifies how we aim to build confidence at CLA. Students try something new and different in a safe space, with the guidance of caring teachers. They use trial and error to execute their plans. Then they finish the project with new skills and a sense of accomplishment. Our students remember this experience, feel like they can do it again, and then they can apply the lessons they learned to other situations. This is empowerment in action! I am humbled and proud to be a small part of the process.
Check out our reel on Instagram!