For some students it was the first time they rode on a boat. That Wednesday, Mach 1st, Carolyn Klein’s class of Place Based Environmental Systems and Lawrence Spence’s regular class came together to enjoy the “real experience” —as Ms. Klein explains— of visiting the places they have been learning about for the past weeks at Westside High School.
“Most Houstonians have not seen the refineries along the Port of Houston and have no idea where their gasoline comes from and Houston’s role in the Petroleum Supply Chain. The trip makes these concepts real,” says Klein.
Before the trip, the total of 41 students of which 23 are ELLs, built a model of one part of the chain, from refineries to oil super tankers to gas stations and additionally learned to perform water quality tests for Nitrates, Phosphates, pH and Dissolved Oxygen. During the educational visit, “students were able to recognize components of the petroleum supply chain —describes Klein— and also take readings of water components at the port of Houston and upstream at Allen’s Landing and, later, analyze the data to determine where the water quality was best: upstream or downstream.”
The visit not only deepened their knowledge of the city’s ecosystems and applied the TEKS through this lens but also allowed students to learn about urban agriculture. “We thought that Finca Tres Robles was a convenient place to have lunch between the two stops in which they had the opportunity to discover how an urban setting can also be an urban farming environment,” Klein said.
By the end of the day, students were rejoiced with the experience, “some had never been at the Port of Houston and wanted to attend again with their families. For many students visiting the urban garden was nostalgic since many of their families were farmers or lived in the country where they cultivated the land and had farm animals, but the greatest part —says Klein— was seeing that they are becoming more comfortable with English and their ability to read, write and speak are improving every day.”