Exploring Ecology

Winter-Spring 2021 
Coursework is specifically designed for high school and middle school students. 

Course description:
How do plants and animals work as individuals to obtain energy, survive the trials of the physical environment, and even reproduce? At the population level, how do they interact with their environment and the other species that share it? Why do so many scientists devote their lives to studying the answers to these questions? And as human beings, how can we use our scientific understanding of ecology to conserve rather than outcompete the many species with which we share our home? 

This course will cover key principles of ecology including plant and animal physiology, population dynamics, evolution and natural selection, and population interactions. Each concept will come alive through New England-specific examples that families can observe on suggested hikes and in their own neighborhoods. In addition to becoming more rigorous scientists, students will also learn to connect ecology and the arts, and to advocate more powerfully for conservation and environmental stewardship.

This course includes a lab component with instructions and support for regular hands-on learning.

Age range:
This course is pitched for high school students with an emphasis on developing rigorous scientific thinking, technical vocabulary, and complex understandings of ecological principles. Middle school students are also welcome to enroll. I am a big believer in seizing learning opportunities as they appear, and making our personal “most” of them — a high school student and a middle school student who take this course might grow in different ways, but both can expect to thrive.

Hayley Kolding is a Connecticut-based botanist-poet with a deep commitment to education. She serves on the Board of the Connecticut Botanical Society and conducts field work and community outreach as a member of the Conservation & Ecology Committee. She also volunteers for the Native Plant Trust’s plant conservation program, teaches workshops at the Eagle Hill Field Institute in Maine, and works seasonally for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Hayley holds her teaching certification in Secondary ELA. Previously, she taught AP English Language & Composition after earning her BA in English at Yale University, where she concentrated in verse-writing as the advisee of recent Nobel winner Louise Glück.

Logistics: We will meet on a three-week “on”, with the 4th week being an assigned documentary. Class will meet via Zoom for one fully interactive 90-minute session per “on” week. Friday afternoons from 1:00 to 2:30 pm.  Homework will be assigned and families will have the option of correcting their own work or submitting it to Ms. Kolding for feedback. On “off” weeks, class will not meet, but we will recommend a hike and assign a documentary. Outside of class, students will read two books that supplement the principles that we will discuss in class.*

Finally, students will design independent projects to present during the last two weeks.

*The book list will include options for multiple ages/reading levels. We will opt for books that are widely available used and new.

Schedule, Fridays 1:00 to 2:30 pm EST:
Jan. 22 – Class meets
Jan. 29 – Class meets
Feb. 5 – Class meets
Feb. 12 – Documentary & recommended hike
Feb. 19 – Class meets
Feb. 26 – Class meets
Mar. 5 – Class meets
Mar. 12 – Documentary & recommended hike
Mar. 19 – Class meets
Mar. 26 – Class meets
Apr. 2 – Class meets
Apr. 9 – Documentary & recommended hike
Apr.16 – Class meets for presentations
Apr. 23 – Class meets for presentations

What is ecology?
Ecology is the study of interactions among living things and their environment.

Why is ecology important?

Ecology enriches our world and is crucial for human wellbeing and prosperity. It provides new knowledge of the interdependence between people and nature that is vital for food production, maintaining clean air and water, and sustaining biodiversity in a changing climate.
-British Ecological Society


Cost: $200 per family
Financial support is available if needed. We do need enough families to run the class, so please register as soon as possible.

Fee is non-refundable. With the pandemic, some families need financial help making the class possible. If you have the ability to pay more for the class, it will support a family that could use a hand. 

Questions about the course, contact Ms. Kolding: hayley.kolding@gmail.com

Questions about registration, contact Debby Reelitz:  860-550-3002; Or email: calligraphydebby@icloud.com

Click here for registration form