Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Inquiry Project

marian.bechtel's picture

My inquiry project is actually a physical booklet that I put togehter, so I cannot post it here, but I can say a few words about it. The booklet is a Junior Ranger activities booklet, called "Diverse Ecosystems: Human and Wild". It's designed to try and bring together thinking about why diversity is important both biologically in an ecosystem, but also socially in a human "ecosystem." It also is supposed to try and get kids to begin making connections between how individual differing identities can affect/be affected by interactions with the environment, and to foster respect for not just the environment, but different people. Importantly, I also designed the booklet to be accessible to kids who many not have the parental support or resources to actually go to a national park or even somewhere rural, so that they have the chance to learn about how the environment is important even in urban settings, and they can be a part of the Junior Ranger program. In designing the activities in the booklet, it was difficult to strike the balance between what the kids would understand about environmental and social justice (this is, afterall, a booklet that would be filled out pretty independently, with the help of some adults maybe), and what would just go over their heads or feel like big words. I also was trying very hard, in the section where I ask them to research what Native groups may have inhabited their region long ago, to make the tone/goal of that section fostering respect for this culture and their history, as oppose to exoticizing people who may still belong to that culture or have roots in it. I also tried to think a lot about this idea of the importance of personal stories that we've talked about, so a lot of the booklet is pretty open ended and left to the kids' creativity to tell their own stories or take it their own creative route. Overall, it took A LOT of brainstorming and careful thinking to design the activities in this booklet, but it was really fun and meaningful to put together, especially because I very well may end up helping design a diversity Junior Rangers program at my job in the North Cascades National Park this summer, and this gives me a lot of great starting ideas.