Creating a New Path is a Learn and Serve America sub grantee at CASMAN Alternative Academy in Manistee, Michigan. Students at the school recognized a need for a better place to walk dogs instead of down a dirt road. Partnering with their local Humane Society, the students set about creating a pleasant walking and training environment for dogs and volunteers at the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter.
Students cleared and laid a quarter mile path on the Humane Society property. Guest speaker Brian Belt, from the Forestry Department, explained to the students how to plan and build a trail. Students measured the property and created scale drawings for laying out the trail, contacted volunteers to help clear the path and donate wood chips, and finally, cleared, marked, and measured the trail. They also developed plans for future trail loops.
By creating a more attractive walking environment, the Humane Society hopes to draw in more volunteers, and have a place available for the community to use for walking dogs.
The project allowed the students a chance to practice their math skills. In class, students learned about finding volume of geometric shapes, and applied this knowledge to calculate the amount of wood chips needed for the trail. Students practiced taking measurements and converting between different measures. Using ratios and proportions students determined the length of the trail and created scale drawings. Study of the coordinate plane was applied to marking the location of benches, bridges, and natural features found on the property at the Humane Society. Classroom lessons involved the study of exponential functions that were applied to the study of animal population growth.
Students had to budget for materials. Next, students will tackle the next loop, building a bridge, benches, birdhouses, and marking the trail with signs. Students will make more accurate maps using GPS units. A dog agility course will also be studied to be a possible addition at the start of the trail system.
The project will also include more subject matter for the students. Math will team with science to create a nature guide to be used along the trail. Science students will identify plants, animals, and insects that could be found on the property. From studying Language Arts, students will help create an informational pamphlet that will be filled with information found during science class. A new website will document the service-learning progress of CASMAN students, promote the use of the trail, educate the community about animal care, and attract volunteers to the Humane Society.
This is only one example of the 3,639 hours of service-learning CASMAN students participated in last year. This commitment to community involvement and development engaged all 100 students in this exemplary school, as well as 10 teachers and 38 volunteers.