At the Cahaba Environmental Center (CEC), we provide an overnight, multi-day experience in which students are immersed in exploring, experiencing, and understanding the natural world. Students are divided into trail groups (10-12 students to one instructor, plus at least one adult chaperone) and embark on an adventure exploring the outdoors and engaging in hands-on activities where they can experience ecological concepts in action. Our programs are place-based, meaning the surrounding environment inspires the curriculum and provides real-world examples of science and social science concepts for students. Our programs are also aligned with the Alabama Courses of Study, including the new science standards. Students enhance their observation skills, ask questions, and practice critical and creative thinking. A multi-day experience also enables students to learn about their classmates and themselves in a new context. This model creates memories and lessons for students to take back home with them and apply to their everyday life well after their trip to the CEC.
Areas of Study
At the CEC, we offer two Areas of Study: Cahaba Connections, our science-focused curriculum, and Cahaba Cultures, our social studies-focused curriculum. While each use a different lens, both Areas of Study tell the story of the Cahaba River watershed. Teachers choose one Area of Study for their CEC experience. Both are directly correlated to the Alabama Course of Study standards. Within these Areas of Study, we customize each experience according to the unique needs of our teachers and the objectives and goals of each individual classroom. In both Areas of Study, students spend their entire day out on the trail exploring through student-centered, hands-on activities that focus on the natural and cultural history of the Cahaba River. After 3-5 days of living and learning on the Cahaba, students return home with a connection to the environment and deeper understanding of Alabama's ecology.
Cahaba Connections:In our science-focused Area of Study, students connect to the Cahaba River watershed through an ecological perspective. Students explore the connections between the water, forest, life, and geology of the Cahaba River watershed. Cahaba Connections provides students with a deep appreciation and understanding of the Cahaba River and empowers them to begin to take responsibility for this amazing body of water.
Key concepts covered in Cahaba Connections include watershed science, biotic and abiotic interdependency, food webs, geologic processes, and human land use.
Cahaba Cultures: In our social studies-focused Area of Study, students explore the cultural history of the Cahaba River watershed, investigating past and present human interactions with the environment. Students connect to the Cahaba River by following the history of human interactions with the river and land, and reflect on their own relationship with the environment.
Key concepts covered in Cahaba Cultures include Native American cultural history, early European settlements, the history and process of coal mining, the resiliency of nature, and modern resource management.
Within each Area of Study, teachers can select a track that provides an emphasis for the experience. Selecting a track helps to clarify the group’s goals for their time at the CEC. Elements of each of these tracks are found throughout our program. By choosing one track, there is a stronger focus on one of these components.
1. Community Building:This track focuses on developing a sense of community, cooperation, communication, and other interpersonal and teamwork skills within a trail group. Selecting this track will result in more team initiatives throughout the experience that highlight the content of the selected Area of Study and an emphasis on community within a science or social studies context.
2. Scientific Practices:This track emphasizes the scientific method and inquiry practices throughout an experience at the CEC. Selecting this track will result in students conducting their own field investigation as it relates to either Area of Study. In this track, students generate questions, develop hypotheses, collect data, and interpret their results as a means of investigating and connecting to a piece of the Cahaba River watershed.
3. Field Journaling:In this track, students record observations, questions, and reflections in a field journal through writing and drawing. Students take time to document their personal experiences with the ecosystems of the CEC and explore the value of keeping a field journal to enhance their observations and connections to the natural world. This track incorporates language arts and visual arts into the selected Area of Study.
4. Survival Skills: This track focuses on the concepts and abilities that our human ancestors used for thousands of years to provide their basic necessities for survival. Students apply critical thinking skills to discover how to utilize natural resources in creative ways. In both Areas of Study, students will experiment with survival techniques and skills, and they will analyze how human survival is dependent on the surrounding environment.
The Curricular Flow
A multi-day experience at the CEC follows the flow of: Explore, Connect, Share! The explanation below follows a 3-day program. A 5-day program would also follow this model, extended over the 5-day period. Day 1: Explore Day: On their first day, students explore and orient themselves to our site. They hone their observation skills and learn background information about the Cahaba River watershed. Day 2: Connect Day: On their second day, students investigate the numerous interconnections woven throughout the Cahaba River watershed. These connections include ecological connections between water, land, and living things, and human connections with the environment and each other. Day 3: Share Day: On their third day, students return home from their experience at the CEC. However, we do not want the lessons and connections students have gained to stay behind as they load the bus! Share Day is all about applying what students have learned during their experience to their home environments. Students will reflect and process their experience, while they explore and assess the relevancy to their daily lives.
3-Day Program costs $135/student 2-Day Program costs $75/student 1-Day Program costs $30/student
Scholarships are available, so please do not let the cost deter you from this experience. For every ten students,one adult may attend for free. Additional adults may attend at full price. Please contact us if you are interested in taking advantage of a day on the Cahaba or to discuss pricing options!
Planning Your Experience
Ready to begin planning your students' trip to the Cahaba Environmental Center? Click here to go to our planning page. It has important documents and additional information to help you plan your educational adventure!
Cahaba Environmental Center 2021 Living River Parkway Montevallo, AL 35115 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 205.208.0035 x3