At least 90% of learning outdoors is a hands on experience. Research has shown that the retention rate for learning through interaction is about 75%. Our outdoor classroom provides us an opportunity to create those hands on experiences. As the students played in the playground during P.E., one of the teachers noticed this funny looking worm.
The student ran over to observe a living thing in its natural environment. The students know that a living thing must have shelter, food, and can reproduce. So they ask a lot of different questions like, “Does it have any bones?” Annika quickly responded to her classmate’s questions by saying, “Worms and caterpillars do not have bones.”
After careful observation, the students noticed what they were calling a stinger. “Look at that thing on the end.” “Is it a stinger?” “Do you think we can hold it?” “What does he eat?” These were all great questions for us to start our research, but first we needed to find out what kind of worm or caterpillar we were dealing with.
After lunch, we again made a visit to the garden. We examined the plant that it was eating and thought that it looked a lot like a tomato plant. But Annika objected, saying, “Look at the leaves on that plant that has tomatoes growing on it. See how its leaves are all bumpy, this plant has smooth leaves.” Nohea and Shirmar agreed that the leaves were different. The teacher proposed the question, “How can we find out what plant the worm is on?”
The girls came up with the idea that Ms. Maryam knows a lot about the garden maybe she could give us answers. So they wrote their interview questions for Ms. Maryam. Nohea suggested in one of her questions that the leaf could belong to an asparagus plant. Kyle on the other hand, wanted to take a different approach. He took a leaf off of each plant and began to look for matches on the internet. After searching many different sites, the students concluded that there a many varieties of tomatoes. So, in the Google search engine the Kyle typed in “Green caterpillar on tomato plant.” We found out that we have a Tomato Hornworm. This type of caterpillar really likes tomatoes, eggplants, and all green fruits, so we really have to watch out or come up with a solution.