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Individual Highlight

Moving Field Guides: Learning ecology through dance

Dr. Mark Twery of the NRS describing the structure of a dandelion stem to participants in the Moving Field Guide workshop at Patterson Park in Baltimore. Steward Pickett, Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER, Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesSnapshot : Children in Baltimore, MD, are working with Forest Service researchers and the Dance Exchange, a professional dance company, to turn their observations into movements as they learn about the environment. The result, a Moving Field Guide, is a dance representing natural events, such as bark sloughing off a tree and ducks migrating, that links students to their local environments in personal and enduring ways.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Twery, MarkMcGuinness, Barbara
Research Location : Baltimore, MD
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 348


Children use all of their senses when exploring the outdoors, a crucial first step on the road to inquiry and an understanding of the environment. In a partnership with a professional dance company, a Forest Service scientist, and a local environmental educator, Baltimore children turned their observations of nature into movement as they learned about the environment. The FS scientist led discussions of local ecology in a neighborhood park in Baltimore, MD., The students and dancers created movements to express what they learned, which they combined into a Moving Field Guide, a dance representing natural events, which included such events as bark sloughing off a tree trunk, wind blowing winged seeds to new homes, ducks migrating, and reactions to a skunk. These dances are shared through community performances and videos as encouragement to other children and parents to notice the intricacies of nature and find ways to make those observations personal and enduring. Additional funding provided by the Washington Office Conservation Education program will extend the Moving Field Guides experience to Girl Scouts in the Nation's Capital region in 2012.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Baltimore Ecosystem Study
  • Dance Exchange
  • Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art
  • University of Maryland