The focus of the fall trip is the forest ecosystem, highlighting the ground level of the forest including the soil. Students follow an interactive map to help them practice their geography skills and get acquainted with Holden. Students also sharpen their observation skills and learn about the life cycles of two forest animals, the chipmunk and wood thrush. Students examine the components of soil and collect samples to take back to the classroom for a teacher lead experiment.
Students are split into small groups with each group making a forest terrarium. The terrariums contain soil, a forest plant, decaying plant material and a few pill bugs. A short lesson accompanies the making of terrariums, which include the introduction to the terrarium ecosystem and a pill bugs lifecycle.
Through an investigation that begins in the classroom and continues at Holden, students explore the pattern of change that occurs during the life cycle of a plant. As a seed grows from a seedling to a mature plant, then flowers and ripens its fruit produces a new crop of seeds. Students observe measure and record these changes as they grow a variety of plants from seed in the classroom. They explore the structure of a seed, dissect flowers and look inside different fruits to compare the number of seeds each produce. At Holden students discover they can recognize growth stages such as seedling, flowering and fruiting in a diversity of plants. They compare the different length in lifecycles of trees and other plants, and discover these cycles are often dependent on interactions with pollinators. Through their experiences, students build an understanding of a plant life cycle as a predictable sequence of changes that occur as a plant grows from a seed to produce the seeds that start the next generation.