Students learn about planet

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

The Tucumcari Outdoor Classroom was the place, and Thursday was the time for elementary students to get to know their planet.

Tucumcari Elementary and Tucumcari Middle School students spent Thursday learning during the schools’ annual Earth Day event. Earth Day was officially April 22, a Saturday, so the following Thursday was used for the children to absorb knowledge about the planet they inhabit.

“This is (for) Earth Day,” said Lem Chesher of the National Resource Conservation Service. “Everything (in the outdoor classroom) has something to do with Earth and its resources in some form or fashion.”

Tonya Hodges, an administrative assistant with the middle school and the chairperson for the outdoor classroom, said the event has been going on for five years.

“As soon as one is over, we start planning the next,” Hodges said.

For this year’s event, the NRCS and other organizations worked to line the walkways of the outdoor classroom with eight different learning stations. Through the day, the children learned about subjects that included plant growth in different environments, soil properties, water and soil erosion.

Carlos Romero, a district manager of the New Mexico Environment Department, gave a presentation on groundwater, using a model similar to an ant farm to show different layers of soil. During his presentation, Romero used colored water to show students how accidents (such as a leak in an underground gasoline tank) could contaminate water.

“We’re just giving (the students) a general sense there’s more than just a canal or a lake,” Romero said. “We can’t see it, but (underground water) is there and we need to do what we can to protect it for future use.”

Other activities for the students included a lesson about dinosaur fossils from Mesalands Community College and a station to show students animal development. Hodges said each student has a kit to watch the life of a butterfly progress through its many different stages.

Chesher, a soil conservationist, said he is confident the children absorb what they learn and the lessons can only help them and the planet as they grow.

“They’re good kids and they’re really pretty attentive,” Chesher said.

“I think that in the future this will help them greatly, because the future is conservation.”