Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 12:13 PM on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forest cycles studied

By Briea Gregory
For the Homer News


Photo provided

Fireweed students collect trees for planting. From left: Elena Badajos, Mux Greene, Diego Ramirez, Wyatt Vogl, Cole Brand, Breanna Simpson and Donovan Green.

Center for Alaska Costal Studies staff member Patrick Chandler came to Fireweed Academy, a local charter school, to talk about how a forest is a cycle. The school has quarterly themes, and this quarter's theme is cycles. Chandler showed the kids about forest cycles like the way they grow from a stretch of barren ground smoothed by a glacier, how it comes back to life after a forest fire and other things.

Next, he guided an activity that had them acting as spruce bark beetles and parts of a tree like the heartwood, xylem, phloem, etc.

He also took students outside, to the top of the hill beside the school to core a tree. The device used was not an axe, but a special device that looked like an uppercase "T" with a hollow inside that, when screwed into a tree showed the rings as a strip of wood with lines demonstrating where the rings were. (If you core a tree, count the lines to demonstrate where the dark, winter lines are.) One of the kids discovered a spruce bark beetle gallery, the lines left in a tree from a spruce bark beetle, in a separate tree.

That wasn't all Fireweed did to help the environment. Head teacher Kiki Abrahamson brought in bundles of 15 spruce tree saplings for students to plant near their own homes over Labor Day weekend. The total number of saplings came up to 1890 trees. The trees went to different students with instructions on how to properly plant them. Not all of the students took trees, but the trees ran out quickly anyway because some took multiple bundles of trees. That proves that environmental help can extend to schools.

Bria Gregory is a sixth-grade student at Fireweed Academy.