Meanwhile, kids in the 21st Century Summer Program use Chapman as an outdoor classroom

For many, Chapman State Park is all about a little bit of outdoor rest and relaxation.

For students in the 21st Century Summer Program earlier this week, it was an outdoor classroom and science lab.

“They’re getting outdoors and getting experience,” said state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Environmental Education Specialist Jen Moore. “They’re getting an understanding of healthy streams and why that’s important.”

It worked: when a group of students was asked what they thought of their morning, a resounding answer of “awesome” – as well as one “super cool” – came back.

Sixty students rotated through four stations taught by DCNR and Conservation District experts.

DCNR Forester Cecile Stelter took students around the area to work on tree identification, Conservation District Watershed Specialist Jean Gomory talked to students about finding and identifying the inhabitants of Penny Run and Moore led testing of that same stream for iron and pH. Students also had a journal station where they tracked their findings.

“They’re really enjoying it,” said Moore. “One person already said they want to pencil this in for next year’s program.”

Moore said she was impressed with the students “sitting and reading directions and really getting into it” while doing the chemical testing especially.

The students in the program are heading into second through fifth grades.

“They’re really enjoying the variety as well as exploring and investigating,” said teacher Heather Corbin, who said the program also has components of arts, physical education, community service, academics and STEM. “It’s worked very nicely,” she said.

Isabelle Grosch said that she enjoyed working in the water, something group-mates Trenton Downey and Emma Roell heartily seconded.

Downey said that he “likes catching things and putting them back. I like nature.”