Submitted by Ms. Will-Henn
Wednesday, May 8, dawned as quite possibly the most perfect day this year for a walk in the forests of Southern Illinois and the students of the VHS Unified Science class made good use of the opportunity in their Geologic Formations and History of Southern Illinois field trip. The students in the class have studied physics, biology, meteorology, chemistry and geology this school year. The trip was planned to gain information on the history of the area in which they live and support their classroom discussion and explorations.
In order to make the trip more memorable and factual a local expert in the flora and fauna of Southern Illinois, Mr. Floyd Koehler, was contacted to lead the tour. Mr. Koehler taught science in Goreville for more than 30 years as well as served the Johnson County community on the police and fire fighting forces. Mr. Koehler’s discussions and recreations made it seem as if we could see the Native Americans from Mill Stone Bluff gathering in the community gathering space. Hoyaneh “Thunderheart” Winstead-Marten, a student, in the class told him in a thank you note that Mill Stone was his favorite part because he could relate to it personally as a Native American himself. Educational researchers have long supported making these types of personal connections in order to facilitate learning.
Many students were familiar with Bell Smith Springs as a local swimming hole and were disappointed in not getting to swim but other aspects of their class work emerged as future engineer and architects, Ronnie Rogers and Trevor Witt moved stones in the creek to try to help Ms. Will-Henn get across some of the deeper areas without getting too wet! “I have been constantly amazed at these students and their level of engagement the entire school year,” Ms. Will-Henn has remarked. Students have developed historical timelines, constructed skeletons and animal and plant cells from classroom materials, and basically immersed themselves in the variety of sciences where they were uncertain before.