Habitats & Open Meadows for the Environment (HOME) Part II

This continuation project received a grant in the amount of $9,950 from the Hipp Foundation. Once again, Hillside Intermediate School teachers Katrina Macht, Anthony Sgro, Sarah Wolf, Michele Murray, James Thomson, Linda Gomes, Amy Bircsak, and Liz Elliot, of the Bridgewater-Raritan School District in Somerset County, will carry on their work in HOME II.

More than 100 fifth and sixth grade students are involved in the school’s environmental program who will assume leadership positions as they teach others about the effects of growth on New Jersey’s open spaces.

HOME II utilizes the school’s outdoor learning center to implement an on-going interdisciplinary environmental science curriculum that addresses the need to find sustainable environmental solutions. Children will work with teachers and parents to explore schoolyard ecosystems as microcosms of diverse communities of organisms found throughout New Jersey. The students will research and design habitat enhancement programs that promote and sustain biodiversity. Their inquiry will emphasize forest systems as complex communities of interdependent organisms, fragmentation, invasive species, succession, decomposition, and nutrient cycling.

This continuation grant helps students utilize technology to share their expertise about ecosystems and habitat restoration with the community as well as children from other communities. Children monitor species and use geographic information systems to map established habitats. Children research which species can be added to existing habitats and how they can contribute to an ecosystem’s success. The information is used to enhance and expand the existing habitats by attracting greater numbers of native birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammal species.

Students share their findings through videoconferences, e-mails, and web chats. A culminating activity called BioBlitz provides an educational forum.

For further information, contact:

Katrina Macht
School - (908) 231-1905